Jerry Sloan was the no-nonsense, hard-nosed coach of the Utah Jazz from 1988 to 2011  and he was honoured last weekend by the team with a banner raised with the number 1223 on it, representing the number of wins that he had as coach.

It was a fitting tribute to a great and widely admired servant of the game who achieved consistent success over the course of his long tenure.  If it wasn’t for some guy named Michael Jordan, he most likely would have won a couple of championships which is probably the only achievement missing from his coaching resume.

During the celebration of his career, one of his start players, John Stockton was asked what he had learned from Coach Sloan.

Stockton replied:

“The game is pretty simple; it doesn’t need to have a lot of nonsense in it. You come to practice, you bring your lunch pail and you go to work. … Whether it’s a win or a loss, you keep that even keel and you get ready to go again the next day.”

These are great principles that can be applied to most aspects of life.

“The game is pretty simple” – It’s easy to over-complicate life with unnecessary worries, but the road to success and a life of significance isn’t as complex as some people imagine, leading to the next point…

“You go to work” – It doesn’t matter what you want to excel in, if you want to become elite, you need to do the work.  Most people are looking for short-cuts, but there aren’t any.  If you want to come out on top, you need to work harder and practice more effectively than your competition.

“You keep that even keel” – In sport, business and most other activities, you will win some and lose some, you’ll have good and bad days.  By all means celebrate the wins, but don’t stop working and learn from the losses without dwelling on them for too long.  Don’t get too emotionally attached to the outcome, but stay focused on what you need to do next.

Congratulations Coach Sloan on a terrific career and thanks for the lessons that we can apply to our lives as well.

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