Notes & Quotes: Eleven Rings - The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson

The following are my favorite quotes from Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson.  Numbered for convenience and links for more information.
  1. Junger recalls one soldier telling him that would throw himself on a grenade for any one of his platoonmates, even those he didn't like all that much.  When Junger asked why, the soldier replied, "Because I actually love my brothers.  I mean, it's a brotherhood.  Being able to save their live so they can live, I think it's rewarding.  Any of them would do it for me."
  2. It takes a number of critical factors to win an NBA championship, including the right mix of talent, creativity, intelligence, toughness, and, of course, luck.  But if a team doesn't have the most essential ingredient -- love -- none of those other factors matter.
  3. I've always been impressed by Kobe's resilience and ironclad self-confidence.  Unlike Shaq, who was often plagued by self-doubt, Kobe never let such thoughts cross his mind.  If someone set the bar at ten feet, he'd jump eleven, even if no one had ever done it before.
  4. In their groundbreaking book, Tribal Leadership, management consultants Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright lay out the five stages of tribal development. Stage:
    1. shared by most street gangs and characterized by despair, hostility, and the collective belief that "life sucks."
    2. filled primarily with apathetic people who perceive themselves as victims and who are passively antagonistic, with the mindset that "my life sucks."
    3. focused primarily on individual achievement and driven by the motto "I'm great (and you're not)."
    4. dedicated to tribal pride and overriding conviction that "we're  great (and they're not)."
    5. A rare stage characterized by a sense of innocent wonder and the strong belief that "life is great."
  5. "You can't break the rules until you know how to play the game." Ricki Lee Jones
  6. The Jackson Eleven:
    1. Lead from the inside out
    2. Bench the ego
    3. Let each player discover his own destiny
    4. The road to freedom is a beautiful system
    5. Turn the mundane into the sacred
    6. One Breath = One Mind
    7. The key to success is compassion
    8. Keep your eye on the spirit, not on the scoreboard
    9. Sometimes you have to pull out the big stick
    10. When in doubt, do nothing
    11. Forget the ring
  7. The more i tried to exert power directly, the less powerful I became.
  8. You can't force your will on people.
  9. If you want them to act differently, you need to inspire them to change themselves.
  10. I always tried to give each player the freedom to carve out a role for himself within the team structure.
  11. When the triangle [offense] is working right, it's virtually impossible to stop because nobody knows what's going to happen next, not even the players themselves.
  12. Though mindfulness meditation has its roots in Buddhism, it's an easily accessible technique for quieting the restless mind and focusing attention on whatever is happening in the present moment.
  13. The Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki likened the mind to a cow in a pasture.  If you enclose the cow in a small yard, it will become nervous and frustrated and start eating the neighbor's grass.  But if you give it a large pasture to roam around in, it will be more content and less likely to break loose.
  14. Compassion for all beings -- not least of all oneself -- is the key to breaking down barriers among people.
  15. One of my favorite ploys was to divide the players into two lopsided teams for a scrimmage, then not call any fouls on the weaker of the two.  I liked to see how players on the stronger team would respond when all the calls were going against them and their opponents were running up 30-point leads.  This scheme used to drive Michael nuts because he couldn't stand losing, even though he knew the game was rigged.
  16. You can't be a coach if you need to be liked.
  17. When in doubt, do nothing.
  18. There are occasions when the best solution is to do absolutely nothing.
  19. When the mind is allowed to relax, inspiration often follows.
  20. Forget the ring.
  21. Focus on the journey rather than the goal.
  22. "The greatest carver does the least cutting." Lao-Tzu
  23. I've always felt that there is a strong connection between music and basketball.  The game is inherently rhythmic in nature and requires the same kind of selfless, nonverbal communication you find in the best jazz.
  24. The road to freedom is a beautiful system.
  25. Red Holzman used to say that, "the real mark of a star was how much better he made his teammates."
  26. As Steve Kerr says, "Scottie was the nurturer; Michael was the enforcer."
  27. "Think lightly of yourself and think deeply of the world." Miyamoto Musashi
  28. The Lakota warrior was "the member of a tribe, and being a member, he never acted against, apart from, of as the whole without good reason."
  29. "There is no I in the word team," Tex would say, "but there is in the word win."
  30. Oneness is not something you can turn on with a switch.  You need to create the right environment for it to grow, then nurture it carefully every day.
  31. The most effective approach is to delegate authority as much as possible and to nurture everyone else's leadership skills as well.
  32. Edwin Markham's "Outwitted": He drew the circle that shut me out--Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.  But love and I had the wit to win; We drew a circle that took him in!
  33. When I'm hiring coaches, my strategy is to surround myself with the strongest, most knowledgeable people I can find and give them a lot of room to express themselves.
  34. Focus on the journey rather than the endgame, because if you give the future all your attention, the present will pass you by.
  35. For the strength of Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
  36. On Becoming a Person, "is that the more I am simply willing to be myself, in all this complexity of life and the more I am willing to understand and accept the realities in myself and in the other person, the more change seems to be stirred up."
  37. In Roger's view, it's virtually impossible for anyone to change unless he thoroughly accepts who he is.
  38. One of the hardest jobs of a coach is keeping the role players from undermining team chemistry.
  39. At its heart, mindfulness is about being present in the moment as much as possible, not weighed down by thoughts of the past or the future.
  40. In basketball, statisticians count when players make assists, or passes that lead to scores.  But I've always been more interested on having players focus on the pass that leads to the pass that leads to the score.
  41. The most effective way to deal with anxiety, I've discovered, is to make sure that you're as prepared as possible for whatever is coming your way.
  42. When you play the game the right way, it makes sense to the players and winning is the likely outcome.
  43. "The way you do anything is the way you do everything." Tom Waits
  44. Coach John Wooden used to say that "winning takes talent, to repeat takes character."
  45. My goal was to act as instinctively as possible to allow the players to lead the team from within.  I wanted them to be able to flow with the action, the way a tree bends in the wind.
  46. Coach Al McGuire once told me that his secret was not wasting anybody's time.  "If you can't get it done in eight hours a day," he said, "it's not worth doing."
  47. Wayne Teasdale in A Monk in the World. "For work to be sacred, it must be connected to our spiritual realization.  Our work has to represent our passion, our desire to contribute to our culture, especially to the development of others.
  48. On one wall in Bradley's office hung a photo of the jump shot he missed in game 7 on the 1971 Eastern Conference finals that effectively ended the Knicks' hope repeating as champions that year.  Bill kept it there as a reminder of his own fallibility.
  49. I used discipline not as a weapon but as a way to instill harmony into the players' lives.
  50. We had absolutely everything in place that we needed to fulfill our destiny--talent, leadership, attitude, and unity of purpose.
  51. Making Dennis feel as if he was a part of the team again was more important than another W in the record books.
  52. Stay focused on the task at hand rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
  53. Later we learned that our equipment manager has mistakenly served players Gaterlode, a high-carbohydrate drink, instead of Gatorade throughout the game, which explained why the team was so sluggish in the closing minutes.  Each of the players, it was estimated, had ingested the equivalent of about twenty baked potatoes.
  54. "When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge." Tuli Kupferberg
  55. From a Buddhist perspective, battling with enemies can help you develop greater compassion for and tolerance of others.
  56. There's something about the fundamentals that basketball players love.
  57. Basketball isn't an individual sport.  To achieve greatness, you must rely on the good offices of others.
  58. A team leader's number one job, I explained, was to build up his teammates, not tear them down.
  59. The Buddha taught that life is suffering and that the primary cause of our suffering is our desire for things to be different from the way they actually are.
  60. One breath, one mind.  That's what gives you strength and energy in the midst of chaos.
  61. "Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself." Zen Proverb
  62. The year after winning a championship is always the hardest.
  63. One of the beauties of the triangle offense is that it exposes each player's mind-set without his every having to say a word.
  64. Gandhi once said, "Suffering cheerfully endured ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy."
  65. "To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved." George Macdonald
  66. The more you try to hang on to the feeling, the more elusive it becomes.
  67. If you look at each season as an adventure, it takes on a beauty all its own.
  68. The key to sustained success is to keep growing as a team.  Winning is about moving into the unknown and creating something new.
  69. These men have been through a lot together and knew instinctively that their connection with one another would be the force to dispel anxiety as the pressure mounted during the game.
  70. "Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." The Buddha
  71. I realized there wasn't much I could do to change his behavior.  But what I could do was change the way I reacted to his angry outbursts.  This was an important lesson for me.
  72. Robert Thurman writes, "Our goal surely is to conquer anger, but not to destroy the fire it has misappropriated.  We will wield that fire with wisdom and turn it to creative ends."
  73. There's nothing like a humiliating loss to focus the mind.
  74. The best way to get off the emotional roller coaster is to take the middle way and not get too high when you win or too low when your game fails you.
  75. Leadership is not about forcing your will on others.  It's about mastering the art of letting go.
  76. "We are all failures--at least the best of us." J.M. Barrie
  77. What we resist persists.