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I hope this update finds you well and ready for a nice Thanksgiving holiday in the US. Today, I want to draw your attention to the remarkable achievements of Coach Bob Hurley, a true icon in the world of high school basketball coaching. At 65, Coach Hurley boasted a stellar record of over 1,000 wins and 25 state championships, making him a living legend in the game. In 2010, he was honored with induction into the prestigious Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, a testament to his unparalleled contributions to the sport.

However, what sets Coach Hurley apart is not just his impressive track record but his unwavering commitment to excellence, relentless focus on the present, and a unique coaching philosophy that goes beyond traditional statistics.

In an excellent Harvard Business Review case study, Hurley is observed on the first Monday following Thanksgiving, marking the official start of high school basketball practice in New Jersey. Coach Hurley’s attention is solely on the present. Past accolades become irrelevant, and his focus shifts to the current season. He only sees his current record of 0-0. It’s a powerful reminder that success is not only about the past but also about the dedication and effort invested in the present moment.

A distinctive aspect of Coach Hurley’s program is “The Contract,” a two-page pledge that all players must sign to join and remain on the team. This underscores his commitment to high standards, separating his coaching philosophy from mere rhetoric. The 1996 incident where he benched star players for violating team rules, and against all odds, still emerged victorious, exemplifies his unwavering commitment to these standards.

Coach Hurley’s evaluation system, called “WIN,” focuses on team and hustle plays rather than individual statistics. This approach aims to promote teamwork and selfless play, steering away from the culture of individual superstars. It’s a lesson in leadership that goes beyond the scoreboard.

Even after more than 40 years, Coach Hurley meticulously planned every practice in 5-minute increments, setting a standard for preparation and attention to detail. His benchmarks for success extend beyond the game, including the cleanliness of the court—a reflection of his comprehensive approach to coaching.

Now, I challenge you to reflect on two essential questions:

What are your standards? Define the principles and values that guide your actions and decisions.

How are you communicating them to your team? Ensure that your standards are clear, understood, and embraced by everyone around you for collective success.

Just as Coach Hurley planned meticulously for each practice, consider your approach to planning for success in the new year. What are your revenue goals, growth rates, and actionable steps, week-by-week? Now is the time to set the stage for a successful year ahead.

Coach Bob Hurley’s legacy goes beyond the basketball court—it’s a lesson in leadership, commitment to high standards, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. As we embark on a new year, let his example inspire us to reach new heights in our personal and professional endeavors.

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