Tipping points for Bo Ryan and the Badgers

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:14 pm

Have you ever taken on a project or planned a journey that you knew would be both grueling and incredibly fulfilling at the same time?

What about doing something very different, in an otherwise ordinary day-to-day existence? Or, made the commitment to yourself or others that you would strive to accomplish something that seemed improbable? We’re all unique individuals. We all have distinct goals, aspirations and dreams. What is different among us is what motivates and allows some people to push themselves beyond the limits to make what might be a wild dream, come true.
Many familiar with the University of Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball program know of the infamous tradition that is “The Hill” in Madison. Its history started in 1984 when coach Bo Ryan began his collegiate head-coaching career at UW-Platteville. The hard-core training drill has become a notorious Wisconsin athletics staple that every team member knows and expects at the start of each season. Bo started the practice to not only help his team members build mental and physical toughness, but also to build camaraderie and a united bond that carries through to March.
How is it that some people, like Frank Kaminski, Sam Dekker, Nigel Hayes, Josh Gasser and the many other incredible men who make up this year’s roster, have what it takes to embrace the pain, defeat, and at times, misery, to continue to strive to reach their goals – while others are satisfied with mediocrity or worse, basking in their unhappiness? The difference, I believe, comes down to these three P’s:
1.  Patience:
In a world where many individuals are obsessed with busyness and place great value on instant gratification, teaching patience as a virtue can be a challenge. However, if you look at the most successful people, teams and companies, patience is a critical factor in their growth, development and overall success.
Like many of the other college basketball teams who have performed so ferociously during the past few weeks, the UW men’s team has had to exhibit tremendous patience, not just over the course of this year’s NCAA Tournament, but for years. Specifically, the team has been touted as the most offensively efficient team in the country. In fact, the stats prove that the Badgers rank #1 in the NCAA in this category and their 1.20 points-per-possession may set a new record.
The team’s offensive successes were not achieved because of one or two exceptional shooters or an abundance of crowd-pleasing plays. It was the result of high value placed on possessions, getting a good shot and patience when it comes to waiting for it. Their style frustrates the opposing offense. When a team fails to score against Wisconsin, they know they are going to have to wait a while before they get the ball back.
Studying areas of possibility and having the patience to put small practices into place, day in and day out, are what ultimately lead teams to great success. There is no doubt about it; great goals require extended periods of great effort. Having patience along the way is what will carry you anywhere you want to go.
2.  Persistence:
How often have you admired a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and still appear to be happily in love? Have you reflected on the ability some have to overcome difficulties in life or contemplated how some businesses overcome difficult economic setbacks? These are the incredible examples of people, companies and teams that have the patience to persist, even without knowing what the end result will be.
Too often individuals have unrealistic expectations of how quickly something should progress in their lives, career, etc. What they don’t realize is the real key to moving the needle is persistence, sticking to a plan and ignoring the noise that may distract you from your end goal.
Bo knows the power of persistence well. For years, he enjoyed coaching at the high school and Division 3 college levels. While working in a Division 1 role may not have even been on his radar years ago, his persistence to build the best, most consistent teams possible and perform at a high level no matter what the environment, are some of the great characteristics that has elevated him to where he is today.
Regardless of Bo’s personal persistence and history of success, the Badgers have had a reputation for not being the most exciting or dynamic players on the court (true Badger fans know otherwise). While some may view this negatively, others know this is a positive reflection of Bo’s solid coaching style. That said, the unwavering techniques and mechanics that are instilled in the team from day one on the Badger’s basketball court is what wins games. Their persistence puts pressure on rival teams and small successes on the court early in the season; turn into big ones in March.
3.  Perseverance:
Do you think a millionaire who drives a Chrysler minivan cares what you think about their ride? Probably not. What about that V.P. of finance who rents a one-bedroom apartment when he or she could afford a much bigger and costly home? Not likely. These people don’t listen to the chatter. While it’s easier to conform or swim with the school, those who persevere want something different out of life – and in turn, think and act differently.
In all of college basketball, nobody has shown such an immense level of perseverance like Bo and his team. Oftentimes, when he speaks of his individual players, he references their ability to persevere. This likely stems from Bo’s superior ability to identify the right characteristics in prospects and lead them in a way that doesn’t adopt a flashy or ostentatious approach, but rather one built on consistency, experience, teamwork and a collective confidence.
Most have a hard time pinpointing secret ingredients that go into an exceptional team like the UW men’s basketball team. It could be Bo’s unconventional training style, extensive experience, or just a supernatural aptitude for finding the right team members. What I feel really sets this team apart is not just their unending resolve for the three P’s in preparation for the season, and their ability to show patience, persistence and perseverance on the court each season. It’s also the little things like commitment to hard work, the friendships, gratitude, a shared love for video games, and the respect and friendly competition shown in this recent interview, that truly sets this team apart.
Whether they win or lose, this group of young men, with the help of their experienced coaches, will have a strong foundation for future success – no matter where their paths may lead.
Joe Sweeney is the former owner and now a strategic director at Corporate Financial Advisors LLC in Milwaukee. He is an author, consultant and speaker. This blog was originally published at www.joesweeney.com and is republished by BizTimes with permission from the author.

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