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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Leadership Principles: Friends are Forever

Friends are forever. This is the next leadership principle I learned playing under Coach Dean Smith. When I first arrived on the campus of UNC as a freshman, there was a tremendous awe surrounding Coach Smith and the program. I will never forget the emotions I felt stepping onto that basketball court for the first time, hearing him blow that first whistle, and watching him lead a perfectly timed two hour practice. However, as time passed, and especially after I graduated, I moved from this awe to deep and abiding friendship. A friendship I could ask anything of. Let me share this story of a time when Coach Smith was a friend. My son David was 13 years old. He suffered a terrible knee injury. His dream was to play college basketball and, as you can imagine, this was a blow not just to his body, but to his heart. Trying to encourage him, I called Coach Smith and asked if he would be willing to contact David and give him hope that he could recover and play again. The next day, Coach Smith called David and spent around 20 minutes encouraging him that he could overcome this setback. Oh. By the way, guess what the first words were that came out of Coach Smith’s mouth? “David, how are your grades?” He was always more concerned with his players' academics and with their personal character than athletics! That’s how he began his conversation with David. David got off that phone call with a lift in his spirits, a renewed hope, and encouragement for the hard road ahead. As a leader, how are you doing being a friend to your co-workers? Do they feel cared for and valued? Do you make an effort to be a voice of encouragement to them outside of their role in your company or on your team? Jesus taught that we exist to serve others, not use them (Mark 10:45). Be a friend. Seek to serve. Give your life away. Use your gifts as a leader to bless other people. 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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