Pass the Ball to Win it All

Michael Jordan dunking the ball in a business suit

Michael Jordan won 6 championships with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s making their team a dynasty.

What many people forget is that it took 7 years for Michael to hoist that first trophy.

He was drafted into a very bad team in 1984.

And besides his second year when he was injured, kept himself busy trying to single handedly win every single game for the Bulls.

And his opponents knew it.

Especially the Detroit Pistons who employed the “Jordan Rules.”

A defensive strategy designed to contain Jordan and which empowered Detroit to knock out the Bulls from the Playoffs for 3 consecutive seasons including 2 consecutive Eastern Conference Finals.

By 1991 Michael Jordan understood he could not win a championship by leading a team that was dependent upon him to win.

Phil Jackson, the coach of the Bulls, finally convinced Jordan to let go from trying to own the game and let the Triangle offense and the system take precedence.

In 1991 the Bulls met the Pistons again in the Eastern Conference Finals and this time the results were different.

The Bulls swept the Pistons in four and celebrated their first trip to the Finals on Detroit’s court while the Pistons fled early in embarassment.

And of course Chicago went on to win the first of its six championships that year.

It’s a great story but also an important cautionary lesson for business owners.

How often do we try to own the game?

How often do we insist to get the ball and shoot it from 95 different angles and from all over the floor – including falling on our butts five rows behind the basket and throwing up a wild shot.

And those shots never go in.

Just like the strategy of making all the decisions and having to be involved in everything rarely wins us a victory – let alone accomplish why we started the business in the first place.

Reminds me of Demetrios, a business owner who I met on the beach in Greece last week.

He wanted to scale his business and escape 15 hour work days.

When I asked what kept him so busy?

— Monitoring the key strokes of his employees was a big investment of his time.

Why did he need to do that?

He didn’t trust them.

Then why employ them?

Demetrios was the guy who likes to play 1 on 5 basketball and wonders why he’s more tired then everyone else on the court and feels burnt out.

How about you? Do you pass, do you have assists, or do you shoot blindly?


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