In 1993 I attended my first Final 4 as a college basketball coach in New Orleans which is where Duke will play North Carolina and Kansas will face off with Villanova in what has the makings of an epic weekend. 

I had been to the Final 4 the previous two years but going as a coach is something different as it is your annual convention where you go to build relationships (network), seek knowledge, and for a lot of coaches…..find your next job. 

I would like to think that I have learned a lot and matured a little since that year. Though if you see pictures of me and the family on social media you may beg to differ!

The industry has changed a lot over the years. Some changes for the good and some for the not-so-good. And, yes….there are a ton of egos involved. 

But one thing hasn’t changed and that is the significance of finding a way to get the most out of every single member of your basketball program in your relentless pursuit of winning championships on and off the court. 

What you see at the Final 4 is magical for some and gut-wrenching for others. The struggle to get there and then to be in the moment to perform your best and enjoy it’s complicated. 

The entire journey is all uphill which should not be a shock to you as anything worth achieving is an uphill battle. 

Somewhere along the way, the elite coaches find a way to make the coaching-player relationship a transformational process. Often the coach learns just as much about themselves from the player if not more than the player learns from them.

The power of reframing a team member’s role

A while back I read a story while doing research about building employee engagement and there was a quote from a janitor at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

The quote occurred when a  documentary team was filming a series titled Driving Towards Zero Medical Mistakes. The crew had stepped into a hospital room as it was being cleaned and a member of the crew casually asked the janitor off-camera if he was cleaning the room for the next patient. To which the janitor replied, “No – I’m saving people’s lives.” 

It’s something you might hear a surgeon or a nurse say, but it’s unexpected to hear it from a staff worker. When asked to explain his reply, the janitor explained that one of the biggest dangers in healthcare facilities is bacteria and unsanitary conditions. He added that unsanitary conditions may mean the difference between life and death for a patient, and this is why he felt as responsible for saving lives as ER doctors and first responders. 

We created a process a coaching leader can use to make this happen for each team member which is something I love doing with my clients. It goes deep and takes some time, but I want to share a few of the questions with you:

  • What gets you up in the morning?
  • What makes you feel fulfilled?
  • Who is the end-user of your service?


This was originally published as a weekly newsletter from Ed Molitor, with The Molitor Group. If you’d like to receive the weekly newsletter, follow this link to subscribe.