Make Others Big

Pass More Than You Shoot

Pass more than you shoot. Phillip Kane's andwin blog.
Photo credit: Markus Spiske |

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

This week, I saw a nice post about the late Kobe Bryant which made a great case for missing a lot of shots. See, Kobe, still to this day, holds the NBA lifetime record for most missed shots with just shy of 15,000; the point being that if you’re missing a lot, you’re not avoiding failure and so you continue to throw the thing up there. In terms of sheer tries, though, Kobe is third to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who made just over 28,000 field-goal attempts during his 20 seasons in the league. I’m all for trying and failing and coming back for more; it’s an important lesson to teach and learn. But in a sport where you’re one of five on a team, if you are leading the league in trying, there might be another way to look at it too.

I most often look at life in terms of what a person is doing to make the lives of those around them better. So, I looked at assists. That’s the stat that records the last guy to touch the ball before the guy who scores touches it. I like to think of it as the person who facilitated the successful basket, who made the score possible. I looked where Kobe ended up on that list: 31st – not even in the top 25.

Rather, the all-time NBA assist leaders are John Stockton, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. What’s also interesting about these three is that they all went on to coach others after playing in the NBA. After racking up the top 3 spots in making the lives of other players better, these 3 cats went on to help other teams get better. It’s not surprising to me. Improving the lives of other people isn’t something people do, it’s a part of who they are.

And that’s the point for the week.

True, caring leaders do not view themselves as the center of their universe. Their first waking thought on any day is never about how or what they can do to make themselves bigger. These leaders have a singular purpose in life: to help other people. It is from that starting point that everything else follows. Decisions that involve a tradeoff between doing something for others or failing to do so are never even considered; because for these leaders, the base supposition is that the reason for doing anything is to make life better for other people. They know that as a leader you will win more often when you pass more than you shoot.

Because they approach life this way, they create not only better plans, but plans others are quickly apt to get behind. As a result, these leaders win more often. They do so almost for one singular reason. Because others trust them. They trust them to always act in their best interest and to do the right thing by them. Those they have the privilege to lead dream the same dreams they dream, care about the same things they care about, fight for the same things they fight for, and up to and including following them into a burning building, will do almost anything for them. Because they know if the roles were reversed, the person that’s leading them would do exactly the same thing in return.

These relationships aren’t bought. They aren’t demanded. They don’t come with a title. They are the earned over time by people who have no hesitation whatsoever in telling anyone who will listen that they genuinely love those whose care has been entrusted to them.

And while great individual fame often accrues from putting points on the board and while much attention can be attracted by tossing up the rock more times than anyone else, leadership is still a team sport, one that is best mastered by those who make it about others, whose first interest is for making others really, really big, and who pass the ball way more than they shoot it.

So, make it about others. Pass more than you shoot.

And win.

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By Phillip Kane

Phillip Kane is a husband, father, and caring steward. He has had a successful business career of more than 30 years in some of the world’s best-known corporations. Working for brands like Goodyear, Pirelli, Rothschild, and NAPA, Kane has had the privilege to lead thousands of individuals and has managed billions of dollars in value for stakeholders. Consistently recognized by the leaders of these organizations for excellence, Kane though credits any personal success to those he has led and who have made each win possible. Born in Detroit, the grandson of an International Harvester (now Navistar) truck dealer, Kane has spent a lifetime in and around cars and trucks. An Eagle Scout, Kane has been serving others since he was a young boy. Crediting his father and a Nigerian priest with almost every good thing he has learned about life, leadership, business and the art of storytelling, Kane has been recognized twice by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner for the impact of his storytelling on teams. Kane lives in Ohio with his wife, Annie, of 28 years, 3 children, Caroline (24), Charlotte (21) and William (17), and the wonderdogs – Moses, Daisy, Eddie and Pete.

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