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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Leadership Principles: A Commitment to Character

While playing for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Coach Smith always led his teams with a deep commitment to character. He knew the importance of being the same in public and in private. At the beginning of his coaching tenure at UNC, Coach Smith was hung in effigy not once, but twice, by the student body. If you don’t know what this means, the student body took a large life-size doll of Coach Smith, hung it up, and burned it. He wasn’t successful enough with victories for them. After it happened the second time, he came back on the bus and said to the players, “Your reputation is what others think of you. Your character is what you think of yourself.” He knew that he couldn’t control what others thought of him. But he could control how he lived his life and if he could look in the mirror each day with a sense of satisfaction. For those of us who follow Jesus, tough times are when we must find our identity: in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We know who we are in him, who he says we are: a child of God (Galatians 4:7). Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). More than a conqueror because of his love for us (Romans 8:37). Coach Smith reflected the biblical teachings of Proverbs 22:1 – he knew the importance of a good name. But he knew that even if others misrepresented him, his character, who he knew himself to be on the inside, he remained untouched. Coach Smith never gave up. He persisted toward his goals at UNC, never compromising his character. Over time, his commitment to building a good name and a program of character paid off. He won again and again and again. And Coach Dean Smith is now in college basketball’s Hall of Fame. Personal character is a key leadership principle that leads to success. Our Leadership Principles blog series is inspired by David's book "It's How You Play the Game: The 12 Leadership Principles of Dean Smith." If you would like to receive this book, please go here.

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