10 Lessons we can all learn from Badgers' Coach Bo Ryan

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By Susan Pohorski

Much has been written and said in the past few weeks about the coaching style of Bo Ryan and the secrets of his success in the NCAA Tournament. Some argued he should have been named to the Hall of Fame. Bo’s methods have led his team to the national championship game. However, many of his methods have off-court applications as well. We can all learn something from Coach Ryan. 

1.    Focus on basics and fundamentals so you don’t make simple mistakes. Bo wrote a book called “Passing and Catching the Basketball: A Lost Art.” What are the basic skills in any workplace? Communication, dependability, time management, problem solving, teamwork, planning and organizing. Learn and practice these skills and you will find success in any career field. 

2.    Set a goal. Think long term. The Badgers wanted to win the first national title in 74 years. They didn’t just want to be Big 10 Champions. The goal was not merely to get to the Final Four. The goal was to win it all. What is your goal? Not just for the job you currently hold, but for your whole career? What will it take to accomplish that goal? Does your company or organization have a goal? How are you contributing to accomplishing that goal? 

3.    After halftime start over. It’s 0-0. Don’t let losses get you down. The game is not over yet. Learn from defeat. What can you do better next time? 

4.    Stay calm. Over and over again sports commentators have observed the Badgers players and remarked at their composure. They seem unruffled by pressure and the high stakes of the Final Four. When you don’t control your emotions, you make mistakes. Keep cool in any situation and you will go far in business, work and life. 

5.     Get players to believe in themselves. Help your teammates to believe they can accomplish their goals. Provide encouragement, praise their small victories and celebrate the big ones. Don’t accept losing attitude or half effort. Expect the best from them. 

6.    You don’t need to start with the best players, you develop them into the best. Look at what you do have and make the best of it. Your coworkers or employees may not be top draft picks, or All-Americans, but they can be developed into great team players whose strengths add up. 

7.    Players learn all positions. When team members learn each other’s jobs, they see the importance of each person’s contributions. They also learn how to assist their teammates.

8.    Empower players to lead. This doesn’t mean they don’t need a coach. Players can lead by example in their dedication, discipline, attitude, commitment and humility. You may not be the coach, but you can be a leader in your workplace.  

9.    Do things all the way. Be the best you can be all the time. Bring your drive and determination. Don’t be discouraged. Keep working and moving ahead. If you can think of a better way to do something, propose new procedures. Take initiative. 

10.  Be consistent. Employers and coworkers want to know they can depend on you. Customers want to know they can depend on your organization. Consistency leads to trust. It also leads to winning.  

Do you have anything to add? What have you learned from Coach Ryan that applies to your life?


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