Dean Smith—A Great Coach, Mentor, and Teacher

So much was written when Dean Smith passed away recently about his coaching record at North Carolina and the superstar players he coached and mentored. What was even more significant to me was the words about him as a person—and not as a famous person—but comments about his character and how he treated people around him.

I am sure he wasn’t perfect but when coaches who competed against him for years had glowing things to say about it, it made me think there was a lot more to him than being a legend in the basketball world
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One of the most interesting comments was from Mike Krzyzewski, longtime coach of Duke University—UNC’s in-state rival. Mike said, “Of course he will live forever. Not because of what he did but because of what he taught.” This quote was in an article in the Washington Post on Dean Smith’s death written by John Feinstein on February 9, 2015.

Feinstein goes on to say that yes, Smith taught the mechanics of basketball but that he also “taught loyalty.” And he taught it to his players long after they left UNC by being loyal to them. He also “taught passion—not just about winning games but about doing the right things in life.”

It is well known that Smith considered players, no matter how long ago they’d played at North Carolina, as family and he helped them in many, many ways. He never let them forget that he cared about each on personally and that they could come to him with problems and issues they were facing.

What kind of a leader are you? What are you teaching your employees? What will they say about you when the time comes for you to move on in life or in death? I hope they will talk about the lessons you taught them by your character and loyalty, and that you treated everyone with respect and dignity. That is the kind of legacy I know I want to leave and hope you do too!


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