Can You Stand the Heat?

Last September, I read an article in Sports Illustrated that I really enjoyed.  The article featured Erik Spoelstra, head coach of the Miami Heat.  It was titled, Heat and Light by Lee Jenkins.  Like the Heat or not, there were many leadership lessons embedded in the article.

Define your DNA

Spoelstra authored and implements The Heat Code, a guidebook containing the foundational theories and quotations that define the Heat’s mission and identity.  On page one, he proclaims

“We want to be the hardest working, best conditioned, most professional, most unselfish, toughest, natiest, most disliked, most prepared team in the NBA.”  He has won two NBA championships and reached the last four Finals.

Reinvent Yourself

At the start of training camp after coming off consecutive championships, he challenged his players with this statement:  “How many times  have you reinvented yourself to become somebody new, somebody better?  But in order to do that you have to be uncomfortable.  You can’t stay who you are… Things change and you have to be able to adapt.” 

One of his favorite books is Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, which points out the difference  between a “growth mind-set” and a “fixed mind-set.”  “When you subscribe  to a growth mind-set, you challenge yourself to do things differently, and actually produce a drug in your brain that allows you to work more creatively.  That’s when you’re most alive.”

Seek Inspiration

Spoelstra occasionally listens to motivational tapes by inspirational gurus such as Earl Nightingale and Zig Ziglar, teaching him lessons such as “we all walk in the dark and each of us must learn to turn on his or her own light.”  In his youth, he and his sister were made to listen and take notes from such tapes before they could eat breakfast!

Keep a Daily Journal

Everyday, Spoelstra journals into his laptop keeping notes on statistics, quotes, questions and definitions.  He analyzes players, the team and himself.  When he’s upset, he “pours his anger” into his computer.  He muses and motivates, sometimes upbeat, sometimes downcast.

Reading this, inspired me to continue journaling everyday, though I may not do so as intensely as the coach does - he types mostly in all CAPS.

I’m not a Heat fan, but have definitely become a fan of Erik Spoelstra.  Keep an eye on him.  Even without LeBron, this guy will repeat as a champion someday.

One more thing:  As I’ve observed Spoelstra through the years, I often wonder what his ethnicity was.  He’s half Filipino.