The Must Learn Startup Lesson About Team & Self

I recently read Phil Jackson’s book 11 Rings (shoutout to Margaret Weniger for the recommendation).

The best parts of the book are about coaching Michael Jordan and winning as a team (surprise!). Of the many stories however, there was one particular that stood out above the rest. Let me set the scene:

The Bulls were hunting for their 1st ring (of 6). They were up against Magic Johnson and the Lakers who had been on a tear (Magic already had 5 rings). It was game 5, they were ahead most of the game but the Lakers fought back and took the lead halfway through the 4th quarter. Everyone could witness that Jordan had reverted to his selfish habits and was leaving the team in limbo.

Phil called a timeout and gathered the team.

“Who’s open MJ?” Phil asked politely. He didn’t answer so Phil asked again, a little more forcibly:

“Who’s open?”

“Paxson,” Jordan replied.

“Ok, so find him!”

The game started to turned. Michael and the others began delivering the ball to Paxson. And he responded by hitting four shots in a row. The Lakers drew within 2 points with a little over a minute left. Phil noticed something different as MJ moved the ball up the court this time. He expected Michael to make a move toward the basket like he usually did in these situations but instead he was luring the defense in his direction and trying to create a shot for, yes, Paxson.

MJ dished the ball to John Paxson and nailed the shot to secure the lead. The team won the championship. And they did it the right way: as a team.

The Bulls were a special team. As a leader, this is your charter. Show your organization that while it’s one thing to be a great individual. It’s a who lot sweeter to be the greatest team:

It’s one thing to be great. It’s a lot more to be on the greatest team.


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