Beyond Basketball

by Mike Krzyzewski

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: February 23, 2024
 6 min read
Beyond Basketball
Beyond Basketball

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What are the big ideas?

  1. It's important to change and get stronger when you face hard times.
  2. Keep your life balanced by not focusing too much on one thing and getting help from family and friends.
  3. Always look for new goals and decide for yourself what success means.
  4. Talking well with others and being brave are important and need practice.
  5. Learn from mistakes, keep aiming high, and always think about what you'll do next to do well in life.


Embracing Challenges and Adapting to Change

  • “You have to adapt what you do based on who you are”.
  • “Do you let it beat you or do you use it to make you better?”
  • “In adverse circumstances, you must remind yourself that this day is not your last. You will get through it, but can you use it to get better?”

Balancing Different Aspects of Life

  • “As a leader and a career-oriented individual, you must take care not to allow one aspect of your life to so consume you that you neglect the others”.
  • “One way to avoid getting into a rut is to ensure that you are not doing the same thing over and over each year”.
  • “When approaching new challenges, it is imperative that you have the support of those who love you most”.

Continuous Growth and Success

  • “No matter how successful you believe yourself to be, you can never feel as if you’ve reached the absolute pinnacle. There are always new and wonderful challenges out there, and part of maintaining success is knowing when you need to accept them”.
  • “Define your own success and failure; only you know whether or not you have given it your all”.
  • “The persistent pursuit of excellence determines winners, not the score of the game”.

Developing and Practicing Communication Skills

  • “Communication must be taught and practiced in order to bring everyone together as one”.

Building and Maintaining Courage

  • “Always surround yourself with individuals who will help to enable your courage when it is lacking from within”.
  • “Courage is the capacity to confront what can be imagined”.

Excellence Through Authentic Self-Expression

  • “To be excellent, you must be yourself. Do the very best that you can do. In giving your best every day, improvement will come naturally. Giving your all makes you better; it’s that simple”.

Learning from Failure

  • “One of the biggest lessons I have learned in my life is that failure is a natural result of breaking out of your comfort zone”.
  • “At West Point, I learned to view each failure not as its own entity but as a stepping-stone on a path to something greater. It was never a destination, but I had to pass through failure to be successful at what I was attempting to do. In order to change what you believe to be your limits, you have to try new things or raise your old limits to a new level”.

Creating a Supportive and Familial Environment

  • “A person is never more comfortable than when they are with their family, which is why I try to create a family atmosphere with my team and encourage people in other businesses to do the same with their employees and organization”.

The Value of Friendship

  • “In life, there are not many absolutes, but when you have a great friend, that is an absolute”.

The Importance of Fundamentals

  • “To help turn fundamentals into habit requires intensive, intelligent, and repetitive action”.
  • “I constantly remind myself of the most basic formula of teaching: you hear, you forget; you see, you remember; you do, you understand. And when you truly understand, that is when the basics become habitual”.
  • “If you want to strive for excellence, you must embrace continual work on fundamentals”.

Winning Through Positive Influence

  • “Having a positive influence on people, helping others: that’s winning. For someone to be a total human being, they must realize that something happened before them, something is happening now, and something will happen after they leave”.

The Philosophy of 'Next Play'

  • “In basketball and in life, I have always maintained the philosophy of “next play.” Essentially, what it means is that whatever you have just done is not nearly as important as what you are doing right now”.
  • “The “next play” philosophy emphasizes the fact that the most important play of the game or life moment on which you should always focus is the next one. It is not about the turnover I committed last time down the court, it’s not even about the three-pointer I hit to tie the game, it is about what’s next. To waste time lamenting a mistake or celebrating a success is distracting and can leave you and your team unprepared for what you are about to face. It robs you of the ability to do your best at that moment and to give your full concentration”.

Passion as a Driving Force

  • “When you are passionate, you always have your destination in sight and you are not distracted by obstacles”.
  • “Sharing your passion with those who love you can provide you with the support you need to overcome obstacles along the way”.

Embracing Pressure as a Catalyst for Growth

  • “Ultimately, having pressure on you is a healthy thing. If you are never put in pressure situations, you are not testing your limits and you will never see how far you can go. You are just playing it safe”.
  • “Even when it feels like the pressure is on, never fear the result of your best effort”.

The Importance of Being Part of Something Bigger

  • “Jimmy Valvano once told me, ‘A person does not become whole until he or she becomes a part of something bigger than himself or herself’.”

Maintaining High Standards

  • “If your standards are low, it is easy to meet those standards every single day, every single year. But if your standard is to be the best, there will be days when you fall short of that goal. It is okay to not win every game. The only problem would be if you allow a loss or a failure to change your standards. Keep your standards intact, keep the bar set high, and continue to try your very best every day to meet those standards. If you do that, you can always be proud of the work that you do”.


  1. How do I adapt my actions to better align with my personal strengths and values when facing challenges?
  2. In what ways can I ensure a balanced focus on different areas of my life, avoiding overemphasis on just one aspect?
  3. What new challenges can I take on to continue growing, and how do I define my own success and failures?
  4. How can I improve my communication skills to foster better unity and understanding in my team or community?
  5. How have my past failures served as stepping stones to greater achievements, and how can I use them to push my limits further?
  6. How do I maintain high standards in my work and life, and what strategies can I use to stay motivated even when I fall short of these standards?

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