STL Business Journal: Character Drives Everything


A Commentary from Brett Ledbetter:


I love asking players in our basketball academy, “What are the first two questions you get asked after a game, by someone who wasn’t at the game?” Everybody responded with the same two: “Did you win?” And, “How many points did you score?”

What does this show? It shows that kids are being conditioned at an early age that results are what matter most. I fell into that category. Which is why Don Meyer, a very successful college basketball coach confused me. I asked him, “What are your thoughts on goals?”

He responded, “I’m not really big on goals.”
Up until that point in my life, I’d never heard a coach say that. I started to talk to other high-level coaches and some of them were saying the same thing. Why is that?

Here’s a definition of the word goal: the result to which effort is aimed.

When you focus on goals, you focus on results. And if you think about it, results are oftentimes not fully within our control.  The championship coaches that I’ve been around focus on the second portion of the definition – the effort aimed at the result. We call that the process.

Here’s the thing about the process: we have developed a sophisticated curriculum that develops the skills necessary to be a really good basketball player. You know what we’ve found? It doesn’t work for everybody. And we started to ask, “Why?”

That’s when I asked one of the most successful coaches of all time, Mike “Coach K” Kryzyzewski, “What drives the process?”

He responded, “Character drives everything.”

What is character?

We define it as: who you are as a person.

We believe it comes in two types:

Performance character: Character skills that govern your relationship with yourself. (Positive, Confident, Courageous, Resilient and Competitive)

Moral character: Character skills that govern your relationship with others. (Unselfish, Encouraging, Trustworthy, Appreciative and Caring)

Performance skills get you to the top and moral skills keep you there.

What if the team you led had all of these skills? How good would you be? We believe that the best coaches understand how to develop these skills in an intentional way.

They focus less on the result—more on the process. But, they understand that character is what drives the process, which drives the result.

Brett Ledbetter is co-founder of Ledbetter Basketball Academy and founder of Filmroom Project, which is hosting the What Drives Winning conference on June 11th at Lindenwood University. Learn more about the speakers (Billy Donovan, Shaka Smart, etc.) and event details at WDWC.org.

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