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Brian Soell


Good Morning!

I'm always fascinated how successful coaches structure their teams and how they motivate, manage, delegate, teach, strategize, and compete. When looking at recent coaches, there are few better than Gregg Popovich. If you're not familiar with him, as the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, the Spurs have won 5 NBA championships and he has won 3 Coach of the Year awards. One reoccuring aspect of the Spurs organization is being known as an organization of high character. 


Coach Popovich's shared some of his insight regarding charcter in a interview with Jon Finkel, that will appear in an upcoming book, "Forces of Character: Conversations about Building a Life of Impact."


1. A sense of humor - "I think if people can't be self-deprecating or laugh at themselves or enjoy a funny situation, they have a hard time giving themselves to the group."


2. Celebrate other's success - "Being able to enjoy someone else's success is a huge thing." Popovich makes it very clear it's about the team and not individual accomplishments. This is one character trait that's non-negotiable for him in regard to personnel decisions because he feels if one is always blaming others, they're not going to be a responsible and accountable member of the team. He would rather find someone else, "even if they have less ability."


3. Active listening - One aspect Popovich and his staff consistently evaluate is whether people have "gotten over themselves." If one is always talking about oneself, Popovich is concerned that person does not listen very well and will not be very accepting of a dynamic role with the team. Furthermore, he feels this type of person will not put the proper amount of work in and he or she will be a poor teammate. 


4. Resiliency - Coach Popovich examines the background of his players. Did they raise a sibling, how did they perform academically in school, did they have a challenging family growing up, have they contributed to their community, or have they overcome a serious injury, are just a few questions he evaluates. This is interesting because these are circumstances that some people would be quick to label as failures. Rather than look at these experiences in a negative light, Popovich feels overcoming such experiences demonstrates one's "inner fiber" and contributes to good character. 


5. Beyond sports - "We spend a good deal of time discussing politics, race, food and wine, international events, and other things just to impart the notion that a life of satisfaction cannot be based on sports alone." Even a successful NBA coach understands there are bigger elements to be concerned with in regards to living a happy and healthy life.


6. Relationships - "...one of my biggest joys is when somebody comes back into town with their kids, or one of my players becomes one of my coaches, and you have that relationship that you've had for the last ten years, fifteen years." Coach Popovich is very candid that his relationships mean even more to him than winning any championships or accolades. 


What aspects do you feel are important for good character? 


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