jay bilas

Strong Face

The way we respond to both our mistakes and our success will often put our toughness on display.  When we mess up, how do we respond?  When we experience a big win, how do we respond?  Our body language speaks volumes, and through the highs and lows we need to have a strong face.  

I arrived early to the University of North Carolina's morning shoot around at Notre Dame.  The UNC team bus hadn't arrived yet, but there were two guys that came early with the managers;  Seventh Woods and Joel Berry.  As I watched them go through their workouts, I became intrigued with the way Joel Berry performed.  Not because he was doing unique drills or making every shot, but because of the body language that he displayed.  He communicated a strong face.

When he made shots, he had a strong face.  When he missed shots, he had a strong face.  Even when he air-balled his fourth miss in a row, he had a strong face.  His body language never waivered and he had a "Teflon" memory, allowing both the good and the bad to bounce off of him.  He transitioned to the "next play" every time.  He never cussed and he never allowed his emotions to overcome him. 

As I watch players workout, there is always a wide spectrum in which they respond to makes and misses.  Some celebrate every make as if it was the first time they ever made a shot.  Some will drop and F-bomb every time they miss as if they are a 100% shooter.  Some will hang their head at the first sign of failure and give up.  Players need to learn how to have a strong face and move on to the next play.  Negative reactions to imperfection is not acceptable and it is an obvious sign up immaturity and lack of toughness.

Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said, "Next play is the absence of fear.  You have moved on."  Negative reactions are excuses and indicate that there is a fear of failure.  Your body language  will communicate to others if you are mentally tough enough to move on or not.  

Next play is the absence of fear.
— Mike Krzyzewski

In his book, Toughness, Jay Bilas writes, "'next play" not only leads to consistency; it leads to composure too, because when you take the next play mentality, you are firmly in the present and prepared to make the most important play: this play."

Whether you are a player or a coach, the idea of having a strong face is vital.  It's important on the court and it's important off the court.  Make it a point to challenge yourself and those around you to respond to their success and failures with a strong face, willing to move on to the next play.  

NASA On Leadership

This week, our program at Bob Jones University had the privilege to have Daryl Woods speak to our team on leadership.  Some of you may be familiar with him if you read Jay Bilas' book, Toughness.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, Daryl is the Technical Assistant at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Marshall Space Flight Center.  He has a vast knowledge of strategic planning and project management in the world of engineering, and truly is a "rocket scientist."  In his book, Toughness, Jay Bilas shares the story about how he met Daryl and drops a great leadership quote on us that says,

Responsible to the element, accountable to the mission.
— Daryl Woods


During his talk with our team, Daryl explained to us how this mindset was an integral part to their success.  He told us that he was given the task to unite two separate teams together, one of which was plagued with low morale due to a recent project being cancelled.  Throughout this journey he shared how each member of this team was responsible for various elements, or parts of the space shuttle.  Each of these elements plays an important role in the overall performance of a successful flight.  Obviously, each responsible party was extremely dedicated to performing their specific role to a high level, but in the meantime other elements were struggling with various circumstances.  


As circumstances came up, members of one element began to contribute to other elements that needed help, whether it was financially or with personnel.  As this team began to help one another, it became very clear that the mission was the most important thing on their minds.  They began to understand that each element was crucial in the overall success of the mission and while they were responsible for their element, it was more valuable to be accountable to the mission.  This culture brought life to its members and they flourished because of a mindset that prioritized the team over any individual.  

Here are a couple tweets from our discussion with Daryl:


As we apply this leadership lesson to our basketball program, we see continual growth and love for each other.  When someone is having a rough day performing their role it is necessary that they find a way to stay responsible to their task, but it is also the duty of his teammates to pick him up and stay accountable to the team.  We can exercise this mindset in many aspects of our program, both on and off the court.  When this mindset is owned by every member we begin to see results that are truly remarkable.  No matter what is going on within your team, whether its in sports, business, or church, make sure that every member stays responsible to the element and accountable to the mission!