Duke’s Coach Krzyzewski was asked in an interview prior to Monday’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game if his past achievements and experiences would be an advantage for his team in the upcoming game with Butler. His answer was incredibly insightful. To paraphrase (Google cannot seem to find the transcript – amazing), he said that his past experiences coaching in championship games does have some relevance and might be helpful. He then went on to say his past achievements are absolutely worthless in that setting. One has to divorce the achievement from the experience.
So much value in such a statement. What we have experienced, and the lessons we have learned from those experiences are extremely valuable. However, what we have achieved is in the past. It does not impact the future. All too often the assumption is that what we have achieved in the past is of use going forward. The achievement is not – the experience is. How something was achieved, the actions taken, the lessons learned, the efficiencies gained, the insight won, the vision realized can be applied going forward. It holds value to for us and those around us.
All too often we hear the line of reason that “I have achieved so much, it should be valued by the new company”or “I have earned x and that is my minimum income requirement going forward”. To stay with the sports analogy, Duke and Coach K could have very easily had the mindset that they have won 3 other championships and have been to 11 Final Fours – Butler has achieved nothing. Understandable, and we all empathize, but in the end, that is an achievement paradigm. “I earned it” or “it is owned to me” is past, not future tense. The achievement is not valued today – it is past. It is the experience that is valued going forward…if it will be leveraged.
Relating the experience of a particular achievement is the art of interviewing, and the art of leading. Because you did something in the past, while nice to know about, is not the end all issue. Life, business, academics, sports, everything is about moving forward. Resting on past laurels will get you nowhere. Leveraging the experience of past achievement is what leads to future success.
There is no questioning Mike Krzyzewski’s achievements – he wins. However it is his mindset that allows him to keep winning. He leverages the experience and leaves behind the achievement. Simple in a way, yet a profound bit of wisdom.