Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Legacy of Greatness: FC Barcelona

“We would like, in 50, 60 years, people are reminded of this team as one of the best. If this happens for us, it’s marvelous.” 
--Barcelona Manager Pep Guardiola, who's team won the Champions League soccer title against Manchester United on Saturday.   

Lionel Messi and David Villa scored second-half goals as Barcelona overpowered Manchester United, 3-1, on Saturday to win the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley Stadium in London.  Messi’s goal in the 54th minute was his 53rd in 55 games for Barcelona this season.

Guardiola won the title as a Barcelona player in 1992 and as its coach two years ago.  

To add pressure, Barcelona received a huge blow before the match, as captain Carles Puyol was deemed unfit to start.

Nevertheless, the match ended the debate about which team was the best in Europe, and renewed the one about whether the current Barcelona squad is the best club team ever.  The title was Barcelona’s third in six years and its fourth over all in the competition.  In beating Manchester United, Barcelona stakes claim to the most prestigious club title in the world, and fueling a debate about whether it is one of the best teams in soccer history. 
An estimated one million fans lined the streets as FC Barcelona paraded the UEFA Champions League Trophy on an open-top bus journey from Madrid's airport. 
This great team also includes a soccer icon in Lionel Messi.  
“I think this genius is impossible to describe,” Pep Guardiola, Barcelona’s manager, said. “That’s why he is a genius. He has instinct. He loves to live with pressure. He is one of the best ever created.” 
“No one plays with as much joy as Messi does,” Eduardo Galeano, the celebrated Uruguayan novelist and author of “Soccer in Sun and Shadow,” said in an e-mail. “He plays like a child enjoying the pasture, playing for the pleasure of playing, not the duty of winning.”

Are you leaving a legacy of excellence?  

Excerpts from the Citizen Daily, Bleacher Report (May 29, 2011), and New York Times (May 21 & 29, 2011) .

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Miami Heat Gets Through the Fire of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals

"We had to go through a lot of adversity.  That struggle that we went through in March, where we lost five straight -- all of them close games, where we didn't execute down the stretch and weren't able to close games out -- that helped us. As painful as that was, we had to go through that fire together to be able to gain the confidence where we could be successful now in the postseason."
--Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, after his team won the NBA Eastern Conference playoff finals with a 83-80 win over the Chicago Bulls.  

The Heat came back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win the game in Chicago, against the top-seeded Bulls.  The Heat won the series 4-1 after losing badly in first game of the series.  So, the Heat are no strangers to adversity.

The Heat will now face the NBA Western Conference champions, the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 4-1 in that series.  The Mavericks beat the Heat in both of their regular season games.  In addition, the Heat and the Mavericks faced each other in the 2006 NBA Finals, in which the Heat won 4-2 after trailing 0-2 after the first two games.  

Great team players possess a mental toughness and a particular mindset that sets them apart.  This mental conditioning allow them to fight through fierce competition, adversity, and pressure.  This unique personality characteristic puts them in the best position to succeed.

Success requires perseverance and determination.  Success involves the ability to persist through difficulties.  To these athletes, failure is not an option.

Success requires tenacity and the willingness to pay the price, including enduring the pain, suffering and hard work that it takes to practice, prepare for and fight through the exhaustion of a long regular season and the playoffs.  

Finally, to achieve the goal of a championship, the players must be driven to incredibly high levels of performance.  They must have the ability to deal with adversity through their extreme emotional strength and resilience.  They must have a tolerance for pressure and stress.  They must quickly bounce back from setbacks (from missed shots and fouls to single game losses).

Both the Heat and the Mavericks have been through considerable adversity to get to this point:  The NBA Finals.  They have prepared for months and years for this.  Who will prevail?  Who will have the mental toughness to take the title?

How about you?  

Are you prepared for success?  Can you fight through adversity with tenacity and perseverance?

Excerpts take from ESPN.com (May 26, 2011) and The Handbook of Peak Performance.    

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mavericks Roar Back from Behind and Take a 3-1 Lead in NBA Playoffs

"Throughout every season, there comes a time and a situation where they're going to test the courage and the mettle and the inner strength of your team.  This was one of those times. It's a defining moment of your season. It's one that we're going to look back on when it's all done and say, 'Hey, that was the game.'" 

--Jason Terry, Mavs guard, after the Mavs won Game Four of the Western Conference finals in the NBA playoffs.

The Dallas Mavericks are only one win away from the NBA finals.  Trailing by 15 points with only 5 minutes to play the Mavs made a comeback to remember.  They tied the game in regulation 101-101 to go to overtime and get the win.    
The veterans Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points, and Jason Kidd hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 40 seconds left in overtime.  The rally stunned the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-105 on Monday night and allowed the Mavs to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.  

“One thing about this team all year, they’ve been a resourceful group, they keep believing, and we’ve been extremely opportunistic,” Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle said. “The way they hung in tonight was fantastic.”

Excerpts from ESPN.com (May 24, 2011)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What Victory Means to A Champion

“It’s special because you’ve been practicing since you were young. It’s what you dreamed of, what you see on TV, those big trophies. And it’s just a moment. The first thing that comes to mind are all those days that were so hard when you had to push through them…[when] you never knew if you were going to have a chance to hold a trophy. But you did [everything to do it]…and you’re not regretting…It’s a really cool, incredible feeling.”
--Maria Sharapova, who captured the 2011 Italian Open, talking about what winning means to her.  

Sharapova beat Sam Stosur 6-2, 6-4 in the Italian Open final last Sunday for the biggest clay-court title of her career.  This tournament is a key warm-up for the French Open, that begins next week.  Sharapova will now clearly be one of the favorites at Roland Garros in Paris, also a clay court.
After a three-hour rain delay, the seventh-seeded Sharapova won the opening four games, then cruised easily in a total of 1 hour and 23 minutes to follow up her victory over number-one ranked Caroline Wozniacki in the tournament semifinals.  A former No. 1 herself, Sharapova had been struggling to regain her top form since undergoing right shoulder surgery in October 2008 -- which caused her to miss 10 months of tennis.  

Excerpts from InsideTennis.com (May 2011) and ESPN.com (May 15, 2011).

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Leadership Lessons: The Pursuit of Osama bin Laden

Perhaps not since President John F. Kennedy stared down the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960's has a United States President been so clearly in charge and purposeful (at a time when perhaps his political career was so on the ropes).  

In successfully pursuing and eliminating Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama displayed and has continued to display an inspiring level of leadership that has earned the respect of this country and our allies abroad.  President Obama has established a strong legacy and has solidified his stance as a respected leader here and throughout the world. His place in history is now safe. He is the leader that we hoped for and expected when we elected him.  He took his role as Commander-in-Chief seriously and took responsibility when it was most needed.  

So, what did he do?  What leadership model does he leave for us to follow?

  • Vision:   Single-minded Pursuit of a Desired Outcome
  • Responsibility and Accountability for Doing the Right Thing
  • Patience
  • Tenacity
  • Perseverance
It took 10 years for us to find bin Laden.  We could have failed in our mission had we struck too soon or at the wrong place or without proper preparation.  We also could have struck in such a way that could have been questioned for years, particularly if we had been left with no proof of bin Laden's death.    
  • Dealing with Ambiguity
  • Calculated Risk Taking
  • Failure not an Option
President Obama could not be assured of success, however, he moved forward when he needed to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.  He was particularly vulnerable to attacks from political opponents.  
  • Courage in the Face of Criticism
  • Willingness to Accept the Consequences
President Obama used all the resources at his disposal:  strategic thinkers and experienced advisors; and deployed the right tactical strike team of the highest level of competence to achieve his goal.
  • Full Use of Intelligence and Best Information Available
  • Due Diligence
  • Realistic Cost/Benefits Analysis
  • Careful Planning
  • Delegating To Those with the Right Skills
President Obama has made good decisions that have been hailed around the world as being culturally and politically sensitive when the wrong moves would have been costly, moving us backwards in the fight against terrorism and damaged our reputation with allies.  His mishandling of Osama bin Laden's remains could have been disastrous.    
  • Sense of Humanity, Respect and Humility
Again, I applaud President Obama and thank all the people that were involved in this critical mission.  Congratulations.  We appreciate what you have done and what you have left us as a model for leadership.