A brief excerpt from my upcoming book Entitled to Nothing: An Uncommon Approach to Leadership, due out in December.

Ready to Adapt

When we first got together as a team in September of 2006, we had a lot of talent and experience.  This was my first recruiting class as a head coach – I got the job in September of 2005 – so it was the first time I had to bring together newcomers with returning players. We had one newcomer that year – Bobby Bailey, who would go on to be the Little East Player of the Year as a senior – who I knew was going to be very good. But we also had most of our production back from the year before. My challenge that year was to bring the talent together and get the most out of them.

I learned starting with that meeting that I was really building a new team. Every year is different. Sure, some years are easier than others when you have a lot of returning players, but the dynamics are new. Even if you have most or all of your key people back. We had experienced some success as a group, but we fell short of our championship goal. Four of our key contributors were now sophomores, having contributed while figuring out life as freshmen in college. Six of our veteran players were now seniors, facing their last year in college. They had all experienced different levels of individual success – from playing time to individual awards, starting games to coming off the bench. Coming back in 2006, things were different for all of them. They had different expectations for themselves with the experience of that year under their belt. We also had a very talented newcomer who figured to play a lot. And things were different for me as well. I was no longer a rookie head coach, trying to figure out what might work and what didn’t. I was confident in my approach with a better understanding of how my team would respond to my leadership.

This is true for every organization, and something that is easy to overlook. Everyone gets older, everyone experiences different levels of success, and everyone sets different goals. The organization evolves as well, adding new pieces or new processes, and along with that come new expectations. A new year brings with it a new team, even if it’s the same faces. No matter how much success you are having the beginning of every year is a fresh challenge. If you aren’t ready to adapt you will fall behind the curve. Your personnel will grow every year, as will you. Maintaining the status quo is not a path to consistent, elite achievement. Expect things to be different and embrace the changes you need to make, even if you are experiencing success. You will never lead the same team twice. 

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