Be Quick. Don't Hurry.

"Be quick, but don't hurry." — John Wooden

I learned a lesson from watching an NBA conference championship in 1981 that has lasted a lifetime.

I was a fan of the 76ers with Dr. J and Darrel Dawkins, who was known for breaking backboards with his dunks. The 76ers were oh so exciting to watch. You never knew who was going to do what.

The 76ers were ahead in the series and behind by one point with 5 seconds to go. They looked panicked and they hurried. In that time, they badly inbounded the ball, attempted one pass and time ran out. Celtics win.

In the next game, the situation was reversed. The Celtics were down by one with 5 seconds to go. Larry Bird and the team looked calm. They inbounded the ball and I saw crisp passes between all 5 players ending with a layup. The Celtics scored and won.

While at first I was disappointed that my "run and gun" team lost, I became fascinated with how they each handled those last 5 seconds under great pressure.

Watching sports and exceptional leaders I see the same pattern over and over. Calm, confident leadership and trust in the entire team leads those teams to great wins, even under great time pressure.

The lesson I learned is that the clock only runs as fast as you let it. Five seconds is plenty of time. Hurrying wastes the opportunity. So be quick, but don't hurry!

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,