Everyone I’ve ever met or that’s watched me speak at a conference would quickly come to realize that I am a huge Michigan Wolverine fan. Since Michigan’s Men basketball team just won the Big Ten tournament in spectacular fashion and it’s the eve of the NCAA tournament, you may think this article is going to be about sports, but it’s really about leadership.


Over the past 11 years the Michigan head basketball coach- John Beilein (pronounced –Bee Line) has enlightened me to so many lessons regarding leadership, many of which have been the inspiration for articles I’ve posted. After last Sundays victory over highly ranked Purdue and securing his 2nd Big Ten title in as many years he’s done it again.


Throughout his coaching career, John Beilein has been know as an offensive minded coach, some have even gone so far as to call him an offensive genius. The complexity and design of his motion, movement and screens often take a few years for new players to learn. In an age of “one year and done college athletes” you might say this type of coaching is antiquated or out-dated.


At 65 years of age it would be easy for anyone that’s had the type of success Coach Beilein has had to simply say this is who I am and “that’s the way I’ve always done it.”


Yet upon hiring his new assistant coach last summer, the new guy asked John a simple question “What do you think we can do better?” Which by the way is a solid question for any new hire to ask his new boss.


The future hall of fame coach quickly replied “I need to learn to teach defense.”


This is really all you need to know about Coach Beilein. And quite frankly this is really all you need to know about leadership. Life-long learning is no longer an option if you plan to stay relevant in an every changing world. Today’s excellence is tomorrow’s expectation in our “what have you done for me lately culture.”


After coming off an extremely successful 2016-17 season, winning the Big Ten Tournament, making the Sweet 16, and coming to within a rebound of making to the Elite 8 of College basketball last spring, the only thing Coach Beilein could think of is that he himself needed to learn something new. That’s leadership.


How many times have to run into a leader or someone that’s attained a certain status or some level of success that believes they know everything or simply refuses to change their ways? Over the years I’ve found that these are also the types of leaders that tend to cause the most damage to their organizations. This refusal to adapt or accept new ideas and new ways of thinking creates a stagnant culture that slowly erodes from the inside out.

Successful leaders recognize one thing very quickly- that they do not know everything and they need strong people in their vicinity to coach, guide or simply offer a different view and perspective to keep them from operating within a bubble.


Coach Beilein’s recognition that as brilliant of a teacher as he is, there is still so much more to learn really stands out as a true lesson for anyone that’s in a leadership role. My first coach used to tell me on a regular basis that “the teacher always learns much more than the student.”


If you really want to gain a true understanding of something you have learned, take the time to teach it to someone else. Above all remember, no matter your level of success you are never too old or too set in your ways to learn a new skill.


Life-long learning is not longer optional. What have you learned lately?


How are you teaching it to others?


Where in your business or your life have you settled for good enough?


Thanks Coach Beilein, and of course… Go Blue!



Thoughts for the week:


Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. – Ghandi


The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice. –Brian Herbert


Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. –Benjamin Franklin


Never stop learning because life never stops teaching. –unknown


If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you. –unknown


Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. –Henry Ford


The world is a University and everyone in it is a teacher. Make sure when you wake up in the morning you go to school. -T.D. Jakes