The other day I got caught up watching a 30-for-30 on Jim Valvano called “Survive and Advance.” It chronicled the magical run of the 1983 NC State Wolfpack as they found a way to win a National Championship. It was a fascinating documentary, and I recommend it to anyone. If you want to see a man who can inspire people simply with his own passion, you should learn more about Jimmy Valvano.
In 1993, Valvano was being honored with the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award at the first ever ESPY’s. He would lose his battle with cancer less than two months after accepting this award, but on this night, he gave an off-the-cuff impassioned acceptance speech as only he could. In that speech he asked a great question.
It’s so important to know where you are. I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it. – Jim Valvano
If you watched the documentary, you would see that these few sentences summed up his coaching philosophy. How do you get from where you are to where you want to be? Isn’t that what coaches do? Isn’t that the essence of leadership? We are trying to take a group of people and guide them to their goals. In this quote, Coach Valvano hits on 3 key elements of leadership; passion, vision, and work.
Is anything worth doing without passion? If you are not passionate about what you are doing, then you should do something else. You must love your work if you really want to achieve. Leaders must have a vision of what success will look like for their group. Without a clear vision, a road map, how will you know where you want to go? To achieve anything worth achieving, you must be willing to put in the work. In moments where your dreams will be challenged and doubt sets in, work will help push you through.
These three values were evident in the 1983 Wolfpack, and it was a trademark for Coach Valvano. It is fitting that the slogan for The V Foundation for Cancer Research is a mere 7 words. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.