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Who's Your MVP?



“Hey, Coach K!” Some of my peers get a kick out of calling me that. It’s a conversation piece when I join a zoom meeting or event, and “Coach K” is displayed in the corner of the small box on the screen. Some people are familiar with the basketball coach from Duke University, Mike Krzyzewski, who is recognized more prominently as “Coach K,” so the conversation may change to sports. I’m not much of a sports fanatic, and I’ll generally let this conversation take on a life of its own, which inevitably turns the conversation to a few players or a great play in some recent game. And that’s how MVPs were made.


MVP is defined as an accolade or award, originally used in team sports to recognize one player for game-changing excellence – Most. Valuable. Player. It’s also used outside of sports to recognize excellence in the contributions of an individual to a group effort.


I’ve always found this ironic because, after all, isn’t the purpose of a team to combine the efforts of a group of people to achieve a common goal or to complete a task in the most effective and efficient way?


As the head coach at Duke University from 1980-2022 (42 years), Mike Krzyzewski (the original Coach K), certainly has an astounding list of staggering statistics – he led the Blue Devils to five national titles, 13 Final Fours, and 15 ACC tournament championships, just to name a few. In taking a deeper look, I believe this winningly list has more to do with his passion for knowing ALL his players and drawing out the best in each of them. His results are based on who he is, what he believes, and how he makes it real on the court for every person on the team.


As a life and leadership coach, I’ve witnessed both the ego of the employee selected as The MVP and the pain of those sitting in the wings. That’s why I think it’s important, as business leaders, we pay attention to what really matters for the long-term benefit of your team.

Coach Krzyzewski thrived in a career that the average coach lasts 9 years, and I want you to thrive as a leader, influencer, and team player, too. That’s why I’m sharing this new perspective on Most Valuable Players. What if you had a team full of MVP’s – Mindful, Vulnerable, and Purposeful. Let’s consider the impact of this.


Mindful – Acknowledging oneself and others, staying alert and aware of the current situation. The ability to accept the reality. Focused on the situation vs. yourself. Thoughtful response vs. protective reaction. Compassion for yourself, others, and the situation at large.


Questions you can ask yourself to boost mindfulness:

1. What is the current situation?

2. Is that true? How do we know?

3. What is going well? (Celebrate this!)

4. What would we like to be different?

5. In 5 years, what will be most important about this situation?

6. How will we respond and proceed?


Vulnerable – Sharing the emotions we are experiencing, especially during times of uncertainty, risk, or what we perceive to be “failure.” The courage to act even when we can’t control the outcome. The ability to ask for help and lean into the knowledge of others. Speaking your truth.


Questions you can ask yourself to practice vulnerability:

1. What am I feeling right now?

2. How is this feeling impacting my ability to be mindful?

3. What is the best thing that can happen when I share how I feel and what I believe?

4. Who can I talk to about this?

5. What do I want to ask others for?


Purposeful – Being intentional about how one responds. Using the information received from your mindful and vulnerable practices to take deliberate action that’s appropriate for the situation.


Questions you can ask yourself to strengthen purpose and intention:

1. Do we have the information we need to make a decision?

2. As we move forward, what do we need to be mindful of?

3. How will this action support the outcome that matters most?

4. What action will we take? When?

5. What do we need to communicate?


Why Mindful. Vulnerable. Purposeful. vs Most. Valuable. Player.

  • It’s about who and how, not what.

  • Each person chooses to be Mindful, Vulnerable, and Purposeful, vs. one person elected as “most valuable.”

  • Mindful, Vulnerable, Purposeful sets the stage for future wins vs. a Most Valuable Player’s past success.


How can you create a team of Mindful, Vulnerable, and Purposeful team players? Practice!


Practice with your team. Practice building these characteristics. Practice often. Practice together. Practice requires a combination of repetition, frequency, and intensity. That’s why I designed a 6-month program, Unleash YOUr Inner Leader. You will practice these characteristics to embrace the power of your team when you lean into mindfulness, vulnerability, and purposeful strategy.


Let’s have some fun and create your winning team! Learn more about Unleash YOUr Inner Leader and reach out to Coach K., Nancy Kalsow, to get started. Nancy@Kalsowcoach.com