I have found that there are two types of artists: artists who are frustrated athletes and artists who have no athletic inkling in their DNA. It’s like the Hattfields and the McCoys – very little gray area. Regardless of which camp you call home, the accomplishments of Coach Mike Krzyzewski are respectable. Last night “Coach K” set the record for most wins by a college basketball coach at 903 and counting. But what can we, as artists, learn from Coach K’s accomplishments?
1. Sustainability – Coach K has been at Duke since 1980. Over the past 31 seasons, Coach K has experienced the highs and lows of building a team. As artists, we often have a hard time sticking to our goal. We feel defeated or misunderstood and often give up before we’ve had the opportunity to instill change and accomplish the dreams and goals we had when we started a job, project or organization. When we learn to sustain, we’re able to weather the storms of insecurity, boredom, being misunderstood, and feeling undervalued. Sustaining allows us to not only make a mark, but leave a legacy. Artists and sustainability are not often friends, but understanding the power of longevity and staying focused on an end goal will help us accomplish more than we could ever dream.
2. Accept The Challenge – In 1980, Duke basketball was not the brand that it is today. Another legendary coach, Dean Smith, had a brand literally down the street at UNC. Krzyewski came in committed to building a brand. He watched what Smith and his staff were doing and built Duke to become not only a rival, but a powerhouse in the exact same community. How many of us feel intimidated by another church or creative team that is right down the street? Or worse, how many of us are intimidated by a another church or artist who is on twitter! Build your brand based on the vision God has given you. Understand your unique mission, the DNA that makes you who you are and reject the temptation to imitate. As an artist, you are called to create – not to copy and paste. You will never be fully alive until you have created based on your gifts and not your google skills. Your “Duke” is going to fit more naturally to you than trying to be someone else’s “UNC.” Accept the challenge as an artist to not compete with your peers but to become the best you possible. Doing that will start the journey to a brand that can become influential in the lives of those in your community.
3. Adapt to Change – The fundamentals of basketball are the same today as they were 30 years ago. However, the game is totally different. Athletes are bigger, faster, and can jump higher. Training has changed drastically. The organism of basketball is growing and morphing. Likewise, the fundamentals for the “creative game” are somewhat the same today as they were in the past, but things are still changing daily. Technology has made creativity and production accessible to the masses. We must adapt and move with the world around us. We have to be willing to adjust our programs, processes, and methods before they stop working so we can stay innovative. If we do not adjust daily, the world around us will adjust us…and that is never good. Being nimble and willing to adapt is not always easy for artists, but it’s necessary if we want to have longevity and true impact in our communities and organizations.
4. Learn to Transcend – Artists often become comfortable in a space and forfeit the ability to transcend groups. The fear of selling out often robs artists from the fullness of their potential and influence. Coach K is a college coach, but led a team of professionals to the Gold Medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Traditionally, college coaches never get the respect of professional players. Coach K was able to transcend titles and gain the respect of his players. As artists, we often have to find ways to transcend stereotypes, insecurities, and obstacles to gain the respect of our organization or to transcend into new opportunities. When we learn to transcend, we position ourselves to steward the influence that God is giving us.