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Cinderella Story? Not Really

It's March Madness time again in college basketball and this year certainly did not disappoint. I would argue it was as fun as it's ever been. And, if you are like me, you had never heard of tiny St. Peter's University unless you are from that area of New Jersey. But, wow, we all know about them now. St. Peter's, ranked a 15 seed, proceeded to defeat a 2 seed, 3 seed, and 7 seed to become the first 15 seed in history to make it to the elite 8. And in the process, capture the imagination of everyone as to what is possible.

So, how did tiny St. Peter's University make it all the way to the doorstep of the Final Four? Was it some fancy game plan or tricky playbook? It’s not as complex as you may think. There was no unusual approach or stunt behind the Peacocks’ style. As the Peacock senior forward KC Ndefo shared,

"We want it more than the other guys, and it shows on the court. We're doing whatever we have to do to get the win. We're grinding it out, we're a grinding team. We play defense, we love each other, and this is what it's all about."

At Butler Street, we refer to this concept described as Winning Your Play. We share how teams and businesses win when everyone understands their position and focuses on winning every play.

So how can we ensure our organizations, like St Peter's, are “winning their play”?

The Four Cornerstones of Success®.

1. Attitude – "We're going to keep fighting the entire game," said Peacock's junior guard Daryl Banks III. "We're going to get after them. Yeah, we're just going to fight, we're going to get after them, we're going to do what we do; we're going to play Saint Peter's basketball, and that should take care of itself.". It is 100% in your control every second of every day. Below are 3 recommendations to achieve a better attitude:

Avoid Negative Self-Talk - It’s easy to get down on yourself when you have a day that isn’t your best. When this happens, it’s crucial to catch your negative thinking before it gets out of control. To put this rule into practice, start by following this simple rule: don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say out loud to another person.

Focus on the Positive at Work - Even if you don’t like your job overall, there is likely some aspect of it that you enjoy. Focus on the aspects that are fulfilling and ask your employer to expand on those tasks if possible. Every job has some tedious tasks, but if you can fill most of your day with projects that bring you joy, you’ll have a better attitude at work.

Celebrate Accomplishments in the Office - Don’t be too hard on yourself, especially in the office. To help you stay positive, make sure you celebrate your accomplishments at work. These accomplishments don’t have to be major milestones, such as getting a promotion. They can be little things like reaching a monthly sales goal or getting a good review from your boss.

2. Personal Accountability - Recall the quote from the St Peter's player, "We want it more than the other guys, and it shows on the court. We're doing whatever we have to do to get the win. We're grinding it out, we're a grinding team. Don’t fall victim to the failure formula shared by Steven Brown:

“People fail in direct proportion to their willingness to accept socially acceptable excuses for failure.”

Or as we say at Butler Street…the ”I’d be successful if” syndrome. If we are unhappy with our performance, we simply have to look in the mirror to stare the culprit straight in the eye. What adjustments need to be made to create new and better outcomes? Become your own successful failure in those moments.

3. PerseveranceIf we want to be a market leader, we must get better at a more rapid rate than our principal competitors. Adopt the mindset of “progressive improvement is better than postponed perfection”. And, in fact, mathematically if you get 1% better at something every single day, in just 2 ½ months, you will be 2x better. That’s the compounding effect. St Peter's coach Shaheen Holloway commented on the team’s success,

"I just think that we're playing at a different level right now, being connected. No one is worried about who's getting the shot, no one is worried about who's getting to shine,... They're just happy for each other, playing hard..."

4. Habit

The successful person is in the habit of doing the things the unsuccessful person doesn't do

You can replace the word "person" with "company", "leader" or “associate” and the same logic applies. This applies to both your professional and personal life. If you follow Brian Tracy, an expert on what habits highly successful people practice, he mentions:

  • Be intensely goal-oriented

  • Measure your outcomes and be results-driven

  • Be action-oriented

  • Practice self-discipline – this includes both being a continuous learner and understanding priority management.

Like St Peter's, we all can accomplish incredible things by practicing these Four Cornerstones of Success®. We set the stage in all our training with these cornerstones of success and commitments to getting your mind and actions right. If professional development in these areas will help you accelerate your success, Butler Street can help.


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