by John G. Miller
I grew up a wrestler. For that reason—and because I top out at 5′ 6″—I’ve never been much of a basketball fan. And if I did watch the sport on TV, it was the NBA and our local Denver Nuggets, not the NCAA. But that’s all changed now, thanks to Coach Brad at Butler University.
A digression …
In September of 2010, we received a QBQ! QuickNote subscription from Cathy in Indiana. As many of you know, when you sign up we ask, “How did you hear of QBQ!?” The responses range from “My dad told me about it!” to “I found a copy at the thrift store!” to “Our CEO bought everybody a copy!” It’s always fun for me to see how QBQ! (as well as Flipping the Switch and Outstanding!) came into someone’s life.
And on that day in 2010 Cathy wrote this:
“Brad Stevens, the head coach of the Butler Bulldogs basketball team (NCAA runner-up to Duke in 2010), spoke at our staff meeting. Part of his message was about personal accountability, and he mentioned the QBQ! book. He said it is required reading for all of his players. When something goes wrong on the court like a bad call, missed pass, or a player loses his man on defense, the players can come back to the sidelines distracted by what just happened. That’s when the coaching staff simply says “QBQ!” and everybody knows what that means—and gets refocused. Something certainly is working for them, so I was compelled to read the QBQ! book, too.”
Honestly, my first thought was, Who is Brad Stevens? Well, thanks to Cathy’s note and a call the same week from an Alabama coach looking for QBQ! books for his team (he’d heard about QBQ! from Coach Brad, as well), I thought it was high time I thank this guy—whoever he was!
Well, what a treat it was when Coach Brad responded to my email, affirming it’s true that all Butler players for the past several years have been given QBQ! to read.
So, I started to take note of this man from afar—and I am impressed. Allow me to share what I think he understands …
Teamwork: Coach Brad knows that even in a tremendously collaborative arena like basketball, it’s STILL ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL. Don’t buy the lie, “There are no I’s in team!” Not true. Every corporate, nonprofit, athletic, family, and church team I’ve ever come across is full of I’s. And it’s amazing what a team can do when each person practices Personal Accountability. Teamwork is great, but high functioning teams are built on individuals who don’t blame, procrastinate, or engage in victim thinking.
Humility: After Butler’s come-from-behind victory against Florida in the 2011 NCAA tourney, he stated in an ESPN interview that he’d been “out coached” and that his assistants and team had carried him. This statement, coming after a big win, caused a lot of head scratching in the media. Why? Well, it’s simple: The sports world isn’t accustomed to hearing contrite statements like that.
Perspective: People speculate about which big school might offer him a ton of money to come coach. To that Coach Brad says, “It’s not like I’m a guy who thinks the grass is greener somewhere else just because everybody says it’s supposed to be. I think that we are very fortunate to have really green grass at Butler.” For a young guy who’s become famous real fast, he still has both feet planted firmly on the ground. A rarity in our world today.
Maturity: Go ahead, watch him on the sidelines. This is one guy you won’t see cussing at the officials and throwing chairs out of childlike anger. His calm and cool style is an outstanding example for players and coaches everywhere … and the rest of us, too.
Grace: After Butler’s loss to University of Connecticut in the 2011 finals, he stated, “I don’t love my guys any less because we lost.” Hmmm, I bet young athletes everywhere could stand to hear an it’s-not-all-about-winning message from mom and dad, and their coaches, too.
Personal Accountability: Coach Stevens made a very meaningful statement to me. He said, “Accountability is a core value for our team and QBQ! defines it for us.” Obviously, I couldn’t be more honored. Thank you, Coach! But after watching him being interviewed several times now, I didn’t really need him to tell me that. It’s evident in his words and his actions. Clearly, Personal Accountability is not just a corporate value for the Butler team, but a personal value for the Butler coach.
I’m sure there is much more to Coach Brad Stevens—the husband, the dad, the man of faith—but I’ve never met him. I hope to someday. And if I do, it’ll be me asking for his autograph. I’ll also thank him for not only engendering in a former grappler an interest in college basketball, but for representing his sport in an outstanding way.
Note: As always, we’d be delighted to have you forward this QuickNote to everyone you know, but at the very least, please send to coaches, school superintendents, and athletic directors everywhere. Thank you!
John G. Miller
The QBQ! Guy
Author of …