I Love a Good Documentary
Last weekend, I snuggled up with a blanket and searched for a documentary to watch. My heart couldn’t handle 90 minutes of the sad reality of climate change so I scrolled past the David Attenborough piece and stopped at “The Playbook.” A docuseries focusing on coaches with interesting stories to tell and plenty of motivational quotes — this was just what I was looking for!
The first episode features NBA coach and former player Doc Rivers, whose storied path from player to coach is entertaining and inspiring. Particularly noteworthy, in 2008, he masterfully united his Boston Celtics team—which some argued couldn’t be done—guiding them to the NBA Championship.
Then, he exhibited exceptional leadership while head coach of the LA Clippers. It’s a moment that remains relevant today and will blow your mind. In 2014, during a crushing incident of racism by the team’s owner, Rivers led the LA Clippers to the high ground, rising above the temptation to boycott. He didn’t discourage them from finding a way to be heard (they ultimately played but wore their jerseys wrong side out and threw their jackets on the floor at center court), but encouraged them to play the game and not let one small-minded man cause them to lose focus.
When asked how he was able to unify these two teams under very different circumstances, he said he taught them “Ubuntu.”
What is Ubuntu?
Ubuntu, can be described as “I am, because you are.” It means one can only grow and progress through the growth and progress of others. In other words, all of our actions impact others and society.
Speaking in South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, former President Barack Obama said:
“There is a word in South Africa — Ubuntu — that describes [Mandela’s] greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.”
In a lecture, Archbishop Desmond Tutu also discussed Ubuntu:
“We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”
Back to sports...
Rivers’ 2008 Celtics had three powerhouse, All-Star players in Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Critics believed their egos would clash and create chaos. But Doc Rivers asked them to live Ubuntu.
“I am (successful) because you are (successful).”
In time, they learned to play selflessly, sharing the ball, lifting up other players with no thought of their own personal success and stardom. That year, they beat the storied LA Lakers and cut down the nets as NBA Champions.
What can YOU do each day to live Ubuntu?
Each of us can, through our actions, inspire others to be successful, learn and grow, share, smile more, be kind, recycle, exercise and drink more water; whatever it is you seek... lift others and YOU will be lifted.