Scars, Not Just The Stars

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Like kids who just arrived home from school, we love to show off our stars stamped on the back of our hands. But, when it come to scars, we do everything from concealers to cosmetic surgery.

We display our victories and downplay our defeats.

Coach Chot Reyes giving his The Gilas Spirit: Giving Your Best Shot To Succeed, Not Just Win” talk. Image from Salt and Light Ventures Facebook page.

Gilas Pilipinas Coach Chot Reyes gave an awe-inspiring talk on “The Gilas Spirit: Giving Your Best Shot To Succeed, Not Just Win” at the recently held 15th Achievers and Leaders seminar of Salt and Light Ventures, with its very apt theme “Crucial Leadership During Critical Times.”

Coach Reyes (second from left) with Boris Joaquin (extreme left), President & Chief Equipping Officer at Breakthrough Leadership Management Consultancy, and people from Salt and Light Ventures. Image from SLV's Facebook page.

There, Coach Reyes showed not only his stars but also his scars.

He knew first-hand how it feels to go, in the words of Joaquin Henson, “from toast to roast.” (Source: PhilStar.Com) Fans from this basketball crazy country commended him at the FIBA Asia Championships and at the FIBA World Cup and then they condemned him at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. He got shot down from celebrated to crucified.

Indeed, we love winners and winning. We hate losers and losing.

In his talk, Reyes did a game analysis of Gilas’ win over Korea at the FIBA Asia Championship Finals last year to glean leadership lessons not only from victory but also from defeat.

According to Reyes, “The number 1 thing we do as leaders is to build a team that executes. Every day is crucial. Every moment is important. Build a great team.” And build a team he did. Reyes outlined the keys to that kind of team: “Trust. Effort. Accountability. Motivation.” 

We saw those elements at play when Reyes showed his crucial leadership at a critical time. Thats when he benched Marcus Douthit in a make-or-break game.

Marcus Douthit. Image credit.

Sports analyst Henson summarized what happened.
The loss to Qatar was totally unexpected and naturalized player Marcus Douthit admitted giving up on the court. Reyes benched Douthit in the next game against South Korea as a disciplinary measure and was chastised for it. Without Douthit, Gilas opened a 16-point lead but wound up losing to the Koreans by two. Not too many fans know that Reyes called a midnight meeting before the South Korea game to talk to the team about what to do with Douthit in the player’s presence. Douthit apologized for what he did and his teammates left it up to Reyes to decide on the penalty. … Douthit’s indiscretion was tantamount to an act of desertion. Apparently, Douthit played lackadaisically in an affront to Reyes because he didn’t like the way he was yanked in and out of the court during the Qatar contest. … It was a hefty price to pay because the Philippines could’ve probably beaten South Korea with Douthit in harness but that’s how the cookie crumbles when you bite the bullet. … No player is bigger than the team. (Ibid. Emphasis added.)
A trust relationship between the coach and his team is the foundation of all teamwork. Thus, Reyes sought to forge strong relationships with his Gilas team. Despite initial reactions to his choices of players, he handpicked those whom he could trust and earned their trust in return. And when that trust was threatened, Reyes had to make a tough choice. That is, make one of his top players accountable. 

For Reyes, “Accountability is doing your job. All of us can make a contribution. If you can’t subjugate your interest for the sake of the team, you can’t play.”

Some people reacted negatively to my tweets during Reyes’ talk. They still blame him for the Incheon debacle. On the benching of Douthit, I replied (echoing Ken Blanchard), “Not one of us is as good as all of us.”

Screenshot of one of my Twitter exchanges last October 28, 2014.

I also replied to another, “Mas madali mag-coach pag miron.” (“It’s easier to coach when you are just a spectator.”)

Screenshot of one of my Twitter exchanges last October 28, 2014.

Reyes made a judgment call. He and his team paid dearly for it. For sure, it’s a scar on their career record, not a star. But, as I listened to Reyes, I realized a lot of leadership lessons. Lessons like, A star player is not always an asset to the team. Attitude trumps ability. Ego and execution don’t go hand in hand. A leader has to make tough calls. 

I think a scar is worth like a star.  

UPDATE: After posting this, a few hours later news came out that Chot Reyes will no longer coach Gilas Pilipinas. 

Screenshot of website


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