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Monday, March 18, 2013

Bob Knight on Seven Ways Negativity Can Make You a Winner 03-19

Bob Knight on Seven Ways Negativity Can Make You a Winner

I have two candidates for the greatest words in the English language: No. Don’t.  And whatever you learned to the contrary in grammar class, there’s a time for doubling up negatives, using both those great negatives at once.
I’ve had players I’ve told over and over and over again: No, that is not what we want. The words “no”and “don’t” are important parts of the power of negative thinking. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I said to a player: What is there about the word “no” that you don’t understand? What is there about the word “don’t” that you don’t understand?
Don’t and can’t are obviously negative phrases, but putting the words into use can bring very positive results. You have to develop enough common sense to know what you can’t do and focus on what you can. Know your limits. If you can’t do it, don’t, and say so.
Challenging the platitudes with one word: why? My list of the most irritating platitudes starts with someone looking at a very messy situation and saying nonchalantly, “Oh, well, the sun will come up tomorrow.” My response: “Yeah, and it will flash brand new daylight on the same old mess unless something is done to clean it up.” The one-word question to keep in mind when these mindless, optimistic paeans to patience are thrown around is: Why? “Everything will be better tomorrow.” Why? “Everything will work out for the best.” Why? If there’s a good, reasonable answer to that one-word question, then you’re making progress. If you’re not… Why not?
Can’t and don’t on a practical level. A major part of my coaching was getting across the idea that, just as the great Chinese general Sun Tzu said, “A military operation involves deception.” In sports, we improve almost every offensive move we make by setting it up with a false move first, a fake or a reverse. As a coach, as a leader, we achieve that deception by saying over and over again on the practice floor,no, we can’t make that kind of move without a fake first. For instance: No, don’t throw up an important shot without thinking about a shot fake. There’s a carry-over principle into business of game-planning any significant new action with well thought-out preparation, self-discipline, and a little poker-faced deception where necessary. There’s no need to put your best offer forward in a negotiation, let the other side reveal their intention. By faking a shot in basketball, you’re forcing your opponents to show their hand first.
Know when to fold ’em. One of the toughest situations for any leader or coach or investment advisor is letting go of a bad decision which you don’t want to rescind because you made it. Corporations tend to have cultures that are very self-reinforcing which means they resist products and ideas which are “not invented here.” Kenny Rogers said it best with a simple refrain in a song: You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. / Know when to walk away and know when to run. Realize when what you are doing isn’t going to enable you to win this game. If things are really going bad, get out of it, now!
Less hope, more sweat. I started playing basketball when I was 12 years old, and my whole life since then has either been playing it or coaching or watching it. I’m not sure I “know” anything else. Winning is a product of good leadership. Leadership is getting people out of their comfort zone. One of the things I always tried to do in October and November was get my team out of its comfort zone and into working at getting better, as individual players and as a team. Negative thinking— realizing that an average game from your team and average preparation from you isn’t likely to beat an average game by the very good team you’re about to play— can give you by far your best chance to win that game.
Negative imagining: If we don’t… The negative thinker always knows there is a chance that he can get beat, so he works to make that as unlikely as he can. The coach caught up with visioning good things  has a tendency to overlook problems he needs to prepare for. I prefer negative imaging – If … then … “ The “if-then” model is built on information. Understanding precisely what the “if” means, what the team has to do or avoid doing is critical. One of the most important statements a coach can make to himself is: I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.
‘Sports intelligence’ is not a gimme. I never felt I could take it for granted that even our best players had learned on their own to be good thinkers. Maybe that’s why great players rarely are great coaches: because what they do instinctively they assume other guys—smart basketball players—will do instinctively, too. It doesn’t always work that way.
Insecurity can have intangible benefits. First, being able to self-analyze and be self-critical are very important. You can accomplish surprising things f you ask questions and consult others about areas where you need to improve. Realizing your shortcomings takes an awareness. There are positive guys who go right ahead thinking they have all the answers because of some divine gift. Here’s another don’t: Don’t be reluctant to pluck the fruits of victory right out of those people’s hands.
Bob Knight’s college basketball record includes three NCAA championships, 11 Big Ten championships and five National Coach of the Year awards. His “The Power of Negative Thinking,” written with Bob Hammel, is out now.