Book Review: ‘The Little Book of Coaching, Motivating People to Be Winners’ by Don Shula

This article reviews the book: The Little Book of Coaching, Motivating People to be Winners by Ken Blanchard and Don Shula (ISBN: 0-06-662103-8). This book teaches you simple strategies for success. The story is written as a parable and includes thoughtful quotes.

Ken Blanchard is the author of many successful business books. Some of these include: The One Minute Manager , Raving Fans , and Gung Ho! .

Don Shula is a famous football coach. He led the Baltimore Colts to 1 Super Bowl victory and the Miami Dolphins to 5 Super Bowl victories. In addition to being the winningest coach in the NFL, he will be best remembered for leading the 1972 Dolphins to a 17 – 0. To this day, no other team has achieved this accomplishment – winning every game of the season, playoffs, and the championship game.

I thought it would be interesting to review this book using a series of fictional emails between a student and a mentor. The email addresses are figments of my imagination.

To: mentor@chelseamentoring.org
From: student@mybusiness.com
Subject: Learning About Excellence

Hello,
I hope all is well.

I have a complex question for you. Why do some people succeed and others fail? For example, what does an athlete like Michael Jordan do that makes him a super star while other athletes do well but don’t reach the pinnacle of success that Jordan does?

Are the methods of this type of success transferable to the business world?

Sincerely,
Lionel

To: student@mybusiness.com
From: mentor@chelseamentoring.org
Subject: RE: Learning About Excellence

Hi,
The answer to your question is actually quite simple. There is a method that makes a Michael Jordan a super star and this method is transferable to the business world or any environment.

I want you to buy the book, The Little Book of Coaching, Motivating People to be Winners by Ken Blanchard and Don Shula (ISBN: 0-06-662103-8). This book provides a simple method called C . O . A . C . H . that will help you achieve this goal. This acronym translates to:

  • C onviction-Driven – Never compromise your beliefs
  • Overlearning – Practice until it’s perfect
  • A udible-Ready – Know when to change
  • C onsistency – Respond predictably to performance
  • H onesty-Based – Walk your talk

As you read, you will learn how to apply these 5 principles to your life. You may get discouraged and think, “This is so obvious. Why did I waste so much time doing things the wrong way.”

Don’t beat yourself up. What happened in the past is history. Promise me , if you remember anything, it will be this quote from the book:

“Success is not forever, and failure isn’t fatal.”

Sincerely,
Lincoln

To: mentor@chelseamentoring.org
From: student@mybusiness.com
Subject: Conviction-Driven

Hi,

Thank you for recommending this fantastic book! I just read the first section, Conviction-Driven. This is a concept that I believe in but never gave it much thought. I think too often we here terms and sayings, “business soundbites”, but we don’t give them much thought.

I think the first quote in this section should be every one’s mission statement. The quote is, “Effective leaders stand for something.” If you want to be more blunt and to the point, I like this statement from this section’s discussion – “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

I plan to continue reading and will email you my thoughts.

Sincerely,
Lionel

To: student@mybusiness.com
From: mentor@chelseamentoring.org
Subject: RE: Conviction-Driven

Hello,

I am glad that you are enjoying the book. This simple story provides a wealth of wisdom.

The Conviction-Driven section contains solid information. Let’s quickly discuss the next section, Overlearning. This is an important concept. As you know I am a writer. I can honestly say that the best way to learn to write is to write and write and write and when you think you are done, write again. Quite simply the more you do something, the better you do it.

As you read this section, think about one of its quotes. It is, “Your attitude makes all the difference.” I am a strong believer that a successful attitude is a great foundation for building a successful business. I once read that people who always appear to be lucky make their own luck. What this really means is that these people have the right attitude. They think positive and act positive.

I look forward to reading your opinion.

Sincerely,
Lincoln.

To: mentor@chelseamentoring.org
From: student@mybusiness.com
Subject: Overlearning

So often I’ve heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” I even remember the joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? “It’s simple,” replied the stranger. “Practice, practice, practice.”

This section got me depressed. Although my degree is in accounting, I’ve always wanted to be a sales person. I like wearing the fancy suits, talking with people, and having those power lunches. I tried selling one summer between semesters and had disastrous results. I gave up.

I then read one of the quotes from this section. It said, “How you rebound from a setback speaks volumes about who you are.” Further on I read, “We can’t control every event, but we can control our response to it.”

This gave me the inspiration to try selling again. I won’t quit after the first no, or the second no, or the thousandth no. I feel better already. Attitude does make a difference!

Sincerely,
Lionel

To: student@mybusiness.com
From: mentor@chelseamentoring.org
Subject: Great Attitude

Hi,
Congratulations on your new attitude. You’ve taken one of the first steps down the road of success!

Audible-Ready, the next section is the most important. I’ve seen so many people fail because they could not master this trait. So what is audible-ready?

Audible-ready is the ability to change your plans or behaviors when necessary. It is a quality that allows you to deal with change. For example, you like to sell. You enjoy meeting people, talking with them, and telling them the benefits of the products you sell.

What happens if a majority of your existing customers tell you that they prefer reordering items from the Web. They like you but feel they don’t have the time to meet with you when they need to reorder or when you ad new products to your line. They are happy with a picture and a description on a website.

You’ll need to modify your behavior if you want to continue receiving their business. You’ll have to embrace the Web for existing customers and reserve your face-to-face meetings for the new customers.

Here’s another example. You are part of a sales team for a successful company. This company is so great that you want to be the VP of Sales. You are making your numbers and are bringing in the big clients. The current VP of Sales who is retiring did the same thing. You emulated her behavior and you are close to claiming her office.

However, the M word is about to hit your company. Merger! Your company is merging with another one. Your game plan worked fine for your company’s values but with the new family member you may have to change your plan and even maybe your goals.

This is the test of success. A success person will hear what is going on and adapt their plan to meet the new set of circumstances. Remember this quote from this section – “Be prepared with a plan and then expect the unexpected and be ready to change your plan.”

Sincerely,
Lincoln

To: mentor@chelseamentoring.org
From: student@mybusiness.com
Subject: Consistency

Hi,

I really appreciated your last email. Audible-ready is an important concept. I know at times it will be difficult but I’ll do my best to learn to be audible-ready. A friend told me the best quality you can have is to be “teachable.”

I certainly agree with the next section, “Consistency – Effective leaders are predictable in their response to performance.” I wish some of my previous bosses and some teachers learned this principle. It was so aggravating when they would tell me to do something one way and then change their mind and have me do it another way and so on. I also felt that it was unfair when you were told if you follow this plan you will receive this reward, and then you don’t receive what is promised to you. It was even worse when someone else did something they were told not to do and then they were rewarded. Quite simply, I believe, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.”

I learned a lot about consistent behavior. It is not always being conservative or always being stern or comical. A quote from this section says it all. It is, “Consistency is not behaving the same way all the time; it is behaving the same way in similar circumstances.”

Your friend and student,
Lionel.

To: student@mybusiness.com
From: mentor@chelseamentoring.org
Subject: Honesty-Based

Hi,

Consistency is important. Don’t make the mistake believing that being consistent isn’t being creative or being consistent is being boring. Many will say those things when you tell them that you want to see consistent behavior. However those same people will be the first to complain when you are inconsistent. Consistent behavior leads to success.

There is also another side to being consistent. It is described in the last section of this book, “Honesty-Based.” There are many ways to say this, for example, “Walk the talk.” or “Do what you say.” and “Action talks, bullshit walks.” Remember, effective leaders stand for something!

Too often in the business world you hear, “He or she is not really like that. It’s just business.” Don’t fall into that trap. Your behavior defines who you are. It is that simple.

This simple quote from this section says it all – “Victory if possible, integrity at all costs.”

Back to your original question. What makes a Michael Jordan a Michael Jordan? C . O . A . C . H does!

A Michael Jordan is conviction-driven. They want to win, plain and simple. Defeat is unacceptable.

Super star athletes are over-learners. For example, if they are having problems shooting from the foul line, they will spend hours just practicing foul shots.

They have to be audible-ready. The dynamics of the game are forever in flux. They may have to change their defense, shoot differently or play the game differently. They change their plan to meet the moment’s needs.

Great athletes have to be consistent. You won’t be in the majors very long if you are good one day and bad the next.

Lastly, they are honesty-based. They are role models for their team. If they don’t drive and play with passion, they can’t expect their teammates to play hard. It’s that simple.

You are a good student.

Sincerely,
Lincoln

To: mentor@chelseamentoring.org
From: student@mybusiness.com
Subject: RE: Honest-Based

Hi,
Yes, honesty is important. It is something that we hear so often but something we don’t always listen to as well as we should.

I agree with your philosophy that your behavior defines who you are. I always had problems with coworkers that were mean at work but fun to be around at social events. This “bi-personality” never made sense to me.

Thank you for recommending this wonderful book, T he Little Book of Coaching, Motivating People to be Winners by Ken Blanchard and Don Shula. I understand why some succeed while others don’t.

Please recommend other books. I look forward to reading and discussing them with you.

Sincerely,
Lionel

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