The Zen Master

As a die-hard Knicks fan, I follow every tidbit of information about the plight of my beloved team.  Over the years, it has seemed that we are cursed or maybe we are just the kid in high school who matures in college or grad school (i.e. yours truly).

In any event, I am over the moon that the Knicks have brought Phil Jackson to serve as the next President of the team.  Simply put, the man is a student of the game and believes that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain.

I think there are direct correlations one can make between Phil’s career and the path and the journey we will all eventually face.  To break it down in a few sentences, Phil was a star player in Montana / North Dakota (i.e. if a tree falls in a forest…), arrives in NYC and realizes it is a different world.  Phil then has to develop a brand that is valuable to teams and becomes the player that does all of the dirty work on the court (i.e. sets picks, rebounds and does not shoot).  Wins two rings as a player.  Then becomes a coach, but first, pays his dues in the CBA followed by being an assistant in Chicago, ultimately he’s given the chance to run the show with the Bulls & then leads the Lakers (11 rings!).  Some may say he was always in the right place at the right time.

But, I think that is evaluating the situation through the wrong lens.  Phil knew how to make individuals work together and buy into the team.  Michael Jordan was already a superstar before he won a championship the same goes for Shaq and Kobe.  But, they did not win it all, until a leader like Phil showed up (I am praying to add Melo to this list).

The same thing occurs at work, we all are not lucky to be around great leaders every day.  Some of us have great bosses and others have terrible ones.  The great bosses I had, always left me inspired to walk through walls at a moment’s notice.  What I realized is not everyone is destined to be a great boss, but whenever we see one we should jump at the opportunity.

Right now, I am halfway through Ben Horowitz’s book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, and it is great!  There are way too many business books that only focus about the victory celebration.  The rock star CEO that was destined for greatness in the womb.

Well, here’s a newsflash, life does not work that way.  Personally, I am far more interested in the struggles everyone faces.  Hence, my interest in the writings of Malcolm Gladwell and learning from the failures that a great leader made and eventually overcame.   Because, there is never a straight line to the top of the mountain even if you are Phil Jackson.  Although, I am praying that next season with the Knicks is an exception to the rule.