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Core Values & Your Biggest Moments

So what are core values and why are they important? I define core values as the behavioral focal points for your program or organization. They're what you lean on in the biggest moments. They help you create an identity and a sense of something bigger than the individual. If your team is solely based on talent and superficial characteristics, facing adversity will break you. But, if you show up every day with a purpose while serving the core values of your program, you are built to weather the storm.

Regardless of your field - sports, business, sales, tech, education - core values help you achieve and maintain success for the long term because they foster a clear picture of who you are collectively and how you do things- in other words, identity and culture. It sounds simple, but it's not all that common. A sense of program or something bigger than the individual is something that we don't often see, even at the professional level (of anything - not just sports). It's the Patriot Way, It's the Celtic's Ubuntu and the list goes on. It's people of an organization serving the values and through those, achieving success.

At Lesley, our first Core Value was Relationships. Our relationships with each other were deep - they still are. We knew each other and trusted each other and we knew that would transfer to our biggest moments on the court. We all wanted to win, but the strength in our relationships opened the door to success through things like trust, accountability, better communication (especially listening), ownership of our program and role identification. Our biggest moment came during our conference playoffs. We hosted the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. We were up 66-62 with less than 2 minutes left. The next time we got the ball over half court, we were down 68-66. We took a quick shot and missed. Tough stretch. So at this point we were down by 2 with 23 on the game clock and 15 on the shot clock, and it was our opponents ball. They called time out and we discussed in the huddle - Did we buckle down, defend and rebound? or did we foul? The players made the decision - not me - and we played it out. We got a stop, got the board and raced down into a dribble hand off and made a 3 at the buzzer. We won the game and advanced to the semi finals of the conference playoffs. But that game isn't won without the foundation of our core values. If we didn't have our relationships built on accountability and trust, there wouldn't have been poise and composure in the timeout, there wouldn't have been strength in our identity as a tough defensive team, or trust in each other to get a stop and gang rebound and the players would not have even made that decision in the timeout. They wouldn't have had ownership of our team, our program or our culture. Morale and belief would have been lower and we wouldn't have been as together. Even if we got a stop, we wouldn't be thinking pass in the closing seconds. You see, the outcome didn't matter to us but the relationships did. That's why we won. The winning was a byproduct of strong culture and identity...and it was an everyday thing. If there was a problem, we confronted it head on. We held ourselves and each other accountable - this is how battled adversity and enhanced our focus on basketball. We dealt with pushing each other and uncomfortable conversations because we served our core values and our program before ourselves. In other words, the success of the program outweighed the awkwardness and uncomfortableness of calling someone out and accountability and trust reigned supreme...and it led directly to our next core value.

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