Rabbi’s “Look Up” Sermon Reminds that Attitude Essential in Life and Business

What does a Rosh Hashanah sermon have to do with marketing and business?

I’ll explain.

Looking from Dante's View across the Badwater Basin salt pan to Telescope Peak, 11,049 feet, at the top of the Panamint Mountains. Photo Credit: National Park Service.

Looking from Dante’s View across the Badwater Basin salt pan to Telescope Peak, 11,049 feet, at the top of the Panamint Mountains. Photo Credit: National Park Service.

At Dante’s View in Death Valley National Park (CA), it’s possible to see both the highest point in the contiguous United States (Mount Whitney) and the lowest (Badwater).

Rabbi David Nesson described this geological marvel in his Rosh Hashanah sermon. Noting the volatile, dangerous world in which we live, and in the religious/spiritual context of the new year, he identified a life-management choice.  We can either Look Up or Look Down.

No surprise that he encouraged Look Up.  It’s a powerful idea with significant personal meaning.  And, it definitely applies to the business world as well.

Outlook and attitude make a difference in life and in business.  An enthusiastic, can-do approach is positively contagious across the organization. It’s much more fun and productive to work in that kind of environment. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.

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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). Continue reading