Our professor said Coach Mike Krzyzewski was there to talk about leadership. I had heard enough from Coach K in interviews to know that this wasn’t going to be a typical talk from a sports figure who would use successful on-court examples to demonstrate the value of leadership. He had more substance than to rely on the “sports is just like life” cliches.
The crux of his talk had more depth. He talked about knowing yourself and what kind of leader you want to be. He said being true to yourself is an essential aspect of leadership and gives you credibility to influence. He said when you set a vision to “dream big,” and you are true to that vision, and to yourself, you inspire others to dream big. Then dreams have a better chance of coming true.
Fast forward to last week and Coach K announced he would retire after next year, having won five national championships and the most games of anyone in the history of men’s college basketball. Duke already announced his successor. Jon Scheyer, a point guard on the 2010 national championship team. Scheyer met Coach K when he was a teenager. Scheyer said he remembers Coach K telling him to “dream big” at that initial meeting. He clearly listened. He became captain at Duke and will be given the reigns of the one the best programs in college basketball history.
Following a legend will be a daunting challenge, filled with some anxiety and doubt, undoubtedly. Scheyer can lean on Coach K. But ultimately, Scheyer must rely on one person. Himself. His heart and mind. His vision. Not Coach K’s. No matter Coach K’s unmatched success, Scheyer has his own unique experiences to draw from. He has his own passions. His own approach. Ultimately, his success will hinge on being true to himself.
When you are true to yourself, you are authentic. People believe you. They believe in you. You earn the credibility to lead because people believe you mean what you say. You will do what you say. You believe in yourself so others believe in you. Belief leads to commitment. Commitment leads to success.