Phil Jackson is a winner. As a player, he won two NBA championships. As a coach he won eleven. He has coached Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal. He is now the General Manager of the New York Knicks.
Jackson has been nicknamed "The Zen Master" for infusing Eastern philosophy into his coaching. The Zen Master has been busy implementing this philosophy with an organization that has struggled to achieve consistency or a culture of success.
ESPN recently reported that the Knicks have hired a mindfulness instructor to provide training to the team. In the ESPN article, Jackson stated, "We're about action; we're about this intense activity that we've got to get after. And this mindfulness is about sitting still and being quiet and controlling your breath and allowing you to be in the moment and yet it's so vital for a team to have this skill or players to have this skill. To be able to divorce themselves from what just happened that's inherent to them -- a referee's bad call, or an issue that goes on individually or against your opponent. You've got to be able to come back to your center and center yourself again."
A little over a year ago I wrote about a similar story with an NFL team. That team, the Seattle Seahawks, went on to win their first Superbowl. We will soon see if the Knicks can improve upon a 37-45 record from a year ago.
As I read the quote from Jackson, it occurred to me that his remarks could just as easily apply to teachers. Teaching is about action. It is intense activity, and we must develop the ability to come back to our centers when the stresses of our profession begin weighing us down.
The data is overwhelming. Mindfulness is effective. It works in sports. It works in the military. It works in medicine. It works in business. It works in schools. Want to build a winning culture in your school? Let's steal a page from Phil Jackson. Start by introducing this tool to your administration and teachers. Then we can bring it to our students and watch our "teams" develop the skills needed to win.