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Phil Jackson Quotes

Philip Douglas Jackson

Phil Jackson quotes: quotes on basketball, business, coaching, championships, leadership, and life by the “Zen Master,” Phil Jackson.

“The strength of the team lies within the individual.  And the strength of the individual lies within the team.”

“Despite their tremendous talent, NBA players are still, by and large, young adults, seeking validation from an authority figure, and there is no greater authority figure on a team than the coach.  Needless to say, in today’s warped, self-indulgent climate, too many players couldn’t care less about appeasing the coach.”

“Good teams become great teams when the members trust each other enough to surrender the me for the we.”

“If you give the future all your attention, the present will pass you by.”

“The soul of success is surrendering to what is.”

“NBA is not exactly the friendliest environment for teaching selflessness.  Even though the game itself is a five-person sport, the culture surrounding it celebrates egoistic behavior and stresses individual achievement over team bonding.”

“I had always insisted on structured practices with a clear agenda that the players would receive ahead of time.”

“I think the most important thing about coaching is that you have to have a sense of confidence about what you’re doing.  You have to be a salesman and you have to get your players, particularly your leaders, to believe in what you’re trying to accomplish on the basketball floor.”

“The road to freedom is a beautiful system.”

“If we can accept whatever hand we’ve been dealt – no matter how unwelcome – the way to proceed eventually becomes clear.”

“You can’t force your will on people.  If you want them to act differently, you need to inspire them to change themselves.”

“Your problems never cease, they just change.”

“Like life, basketball is messy and unpredictable.  It has its way with you, no matter how hard you try to control it.  The trick is to experience each moment with a clear mind and open heart.  When you do that, the game – and life – will take care of itself.”

“Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength.”

“It takes a number of critical factors to win an NBA championship, including the right mix of talent, creativity, intelligence, toughness, and of course, luck.  But if a team doesn’t have the most essential ingredient – love – none of those other factors matter.”

“Yes, victory is sweet, but it doesn’t necessarily make life any easier the next season or even the next day.”

“The best part of basketball, for those people on the inside, is the bus going to the airport after you’ve won a game on an opponent’s floor.  It’s been a very tough battle.  And preferably, in the playoffs.  And that feeling that you have, together as a group, having gone to an opponent’s floor and won a very good victory, is about as high as you can get.”

“You’re only a success for the moment that you complete a successful act.”

“But there’s only so much a player can absorb when his body is pulsing with adrenaline.  This is not a good time for deep left brain discussion.  It’s the moment to calm the players’ minds and strengthen their spiritual connection with one another before they head into battle.”

“Before a vision or dream can become a reality, it must be owned by every member of the group.”

“My philosophy is that you can’t motivate players with speeches, you have motivated players that you draft.  That’s where they come in and those are the guys that are competitive.  You cannot teach competitiveness.”

“Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.”

“The greatness of Michael Jordan is his competitive drive.  The weakness of Michael Jordan is his competitive drive.”

“No one plays this or any game perfectly.  It’s the guy who recovers from his mistakes who wins.”

“The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome.  The ride is a lot more fun that way.”

“What moves me is watching young men bond together and tap into the magic that arises when they focus with their whole heart and soul on something greater than themselves.  Once you’ve experienced that, it’s something you never forget.”

“My job as a coach was to make something meaningful out of one of the most mundane activities on the planet: playing pro basketball.”

“Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.”

“Trying to eliminate anger never works.  The more you try to suppress it, the more likely it is to erupt later in a more virulent form.  A better approach is to become as intimate as possible with how anger works on your mind and body so that you can transform its underlying energy into something productive.”

“In basketball – as in life – true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way.  Of course, it’s no accident that things are more likely to go your way when you stop worrying about whether you’re going to win or lose and focus your full attention on what’s happening right this moment.”

“I’m not trying to find answers anymore.  I’m trying to live what I know.”

“The ideal way to win a championship is step by step.”

“When the mind is allowed to relax, inspiration often follows.”

“Basketball is a great mystery.  You can do everything right.  You can have the perfect mix of talent and the best system of offense in the game.  You can devise a foolproof defensive strategy and prepare your players for every possible eventuality.  But if the players don’t have a sense of oneness as a group, your efforts won’t pay off.  And the bond that unites a team can be so fragile, so elusive.”

“The bigger your head, the easier to fill your shoes.”

“There’s a zen saying I often cite that goes, ‘Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.’  The point: stay focused on the task at hand rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.”

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”

“I’ve always been impressed by Kobe’s resilience and ironclad self-confidence.  Unlike Shaq, who was often plagued by self-doubt, Kobe never let such thoughts cross his mind.  If someone set the bar at 10 feet, he’d jump 11, even if no one had ever done it before.  That’s the attitude he brought with him when he arrived at training camp that fall, and it had a powerful impact on his teammates.”

“Winning is important to me, but what brings me real joy is the experience of being fully engaged in whatever I’m doing.”

Feeling these Phil Jackson quotes?  You might like LeBron’s too.

Cory Johnson: CEO of a business he has yet to launch. As seen on your mom’s phone. Scaled to 7-figures in seven seconds selling a course on selling courses. Kidding. Watch this.