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Personal Growth

4 Lessons We Can Learn From Duke Basketball

3 Minute Read

Of all the months for Duke fans to get excited, this one tops them all.

March Madness, aka the NCAA tournament, started March 17 . The Blue Devils are a mainstay in the tournament, and this year they have the chance to win their fifth national title since 1991. That kind of success obviously requires hard work, but that’s not all it takes.

Duke didn’t earn those championships just by practicing a lot. To win at that level, a team also needs perseverance, communication and more. The players have to learn those concepts and live by them every day. If you do the same, you set yourself up to win with your life and money.

To show you what we mean, we put together four life lessons you can learn from Duke basketball:

1. Do everything with excellence

Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski says, “My hunger is not for success; it is for excellence. Because when you attain excellence, success just naturally follows.”

Focus on performing well, whether you’re working on your career, strengthening your relationships, or getting out of debt. Great things happen when you put in great effort.

2. Persevere through tough times

From 1988–90, Duke came within two wins of the national championship and lost. The members of those teams put in tons of work and came up just short.

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Did they spend the offseason whining? Nope! They got right back to work and won the tournament in 1991 and 1992—all because they didn’t quit. Quitting during a challenging time doesn’t lead to victory. If you’re experiencing a difficult time in your life or money situation, keep plugging away and you will eventually pull through.

3. Always communicate

Whether it’s during a game or practice, Coach K tells his players to constantly talk to each other. The reason? If a player can hear his four teammates, he knows where they are on the floor. They make him aware of a developing play.

That kind of communication keeps a team running smoothly. If you and your spouse are getting out of debt or trying to fix some issue in your life, communicate constantly about it. Know what’s going on so you can work better as a team. This approach has served Duke well—and they have 81 NCAA tournament wins in 35 years to prove it.

Related: Change Your Fighting Words to Love and Respect

4. Be in for the long haul

Krzyzewski has been coaching for 40 years and just won his 1,000th game as the head man. That’s a Hall-of-Fame number and the result of Krzyzewski committing himself to coaching for many years. It’s his professional legacy.

Your legacy reflects the time you dedicate to the things you value in life. If a strong family, a solid career, or a huge retirement nest egg is important to you, spend years building it. The results will amaze you.

Success in life doesn’t happen by accident. Success doesn’t even happen to you. You happen to it. When you put in time and effort, persevere through the rough patches, and stay the course, you’ll be shocked at the results. Approaching life that way leads to winning.

It certainly does for Duke.

Dave's latest book, The Legacy Journey, can teach you how to live and leave a lasting legacy.