A Mindset for Success: “We Have Enough to Win”

I was hoping not to write this post.

You see, the Chicago Bulls defeated the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night in the NBA playoffs.  Had the team I was rooting for won, I wasn’t going to write this.  Instead, there’s an extra impetus to highlight why even non-sports fans can take something away from the “corporate culture” instilled by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

Thibodeau has become well-known in NBA circles for his leadership and coaching philosophy of “we have enough to win” and even his more pronounced “we have more than enough to win.”  It’s a refusing-to-blame-injuries-and illness belief system he’s had to put to good use since the team’s best player Derrick Rose tore up his knee in last year’s playoffs (still hasn’t returned to action); and throughout this year’s season and now playoffs.

The Bulls beat the Nets on the road in seven games despite two starting players out with injury/illness for games 6 and 7 and several others playing with the flu (garbage pails were needed on the bench in game six for at least one player to umm, get sick in).  Chicago has a deep and talented team, but their depleted-roster victory can also be credited to the Nets’ poor performance.  Really, Chicago had no business winning the series.

But, this isn’t a sports story.

It’s a lesson about the power of team attitude, mindset and culture.

Check out this quote from Bulls player Jimmy Butler, courtesy of ESPNChicago.com:

“I think whenever you hear it enough each and every day, you start to buy into it.  Thibs [Coach Tom Thibodeau] is constantly saying that, we’re constantly saying that. And we know that we have enough to win because even though (our injured teammates) aren’t on the court with us, they’re with us spiritually. Whenever we come into that locker room, they’re saying things that they see from the TV. They’re always helping, just maybe not physically out there on the court with us.”

Let’s say your organization has to operate without your best competitive asset and a 40% budget reduction (analogous to the Bulls situation versus the Nets).

We’ve all been in business situations where we don’t have the resources we think we need to get the job done right (manpower, budgets, etc.).  The first natural tendency is often one of woe or negativity (we can’t get it done or now we can only achieve X minus).  It sure isn’t – no problem, we have enough to win.

Look, at the end of most days, talent and resources matter. Despite Thibodeau instilling a tenacious we-can-get-it-done-no matter-what culture, the defending champion Miami Heat should still send the Bulls home in the next playoff round (even though the Bulls shocked to victory in game one). But again, this isn’t a sports story.

The point here is that sometimes the attitude you instill can make up for other shortcomings across the business.  We all know how bad attitude weakens culture and can drag down even the best companies.  However, the right kind of culture, leading to the right kind of team engagement, has the potential to supercharge results.

So, the next time you and your team face business adversity, remember the “we have enough to win” mindset and determine the best action plan.  Better yet, start instilling that way of thinking into your organization today.


Attitude does matter and it can be infectious – good or bad.  That’s the lesson from Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and his “we have enough to win” team culture.

Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success.

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