Coach Bob Knight, on What It Takes to Make it to the Top of Any Career

Coach Bob Knight compiled one of the greatest records ever in college basketball: 5 National Coach of the Year awards, 3 NCAA championships, 11 Big Ten championships, an Olympics championship, and 902 victories overall, along with achieving a near-perfect graduation rate for his players. Knight is also a featured commentator for ESPN’s college basketball coverage. We were able to catch up with him recently to talk about his latest book, “The Power of Negative Thinking: An Unconventional Approach to Achieving Positive Results,” as well as his advice on having a successful career. What are your best tips for studying potential obstacles to neutralize the playing field and get ahead in a career? No. 1: Whatever you are doing, you’ve got to figure out what you shouldn’t be doing. You’ve got to figure out what you are not doing. You’ve got to know what it is you are being asked to do. Don’t ever do something without knowing exactly what is being asked of you. No. 2: If you’re on a job quest, you must present yourself in a way that illustrates the hard work you’ve put in to get to where you are now. Be sure that anyone who interviews you can say without question, “This person is invested. Their track record proves it.” You're known as a fairly up-front kind of guy. Why is it important to convey your expectations realistically when faced with real-life situations like interviewing or asking for a raise? Any tips? I’m not sure you should ever ask for a raise, unless you are prepared to go somewhere else. The only time I think you should ask for a raise is when you are doing a better job in your position than anyone else in the company. For example, in coaching, you are beating everyone. and they are all getting paid more than you are. Or when you have the background that compares to those in a position or situation equal to yours, and they are getting paid more than you. If you go in there and say, “Well, I’ve been here for two years,” I’d say, “You’re lucky we’ve kept you for two years.” When is an appropriate time for an employee to say "I can't"? When he or she just isn’t able to do something, just absolutely cannot get it done. Either physically, or in terms of “I’m just not well versed enough in that. I’ll be glad to study it and work on it and see, but I just want you to know that that is not an expertise of mine.” What particular advice would you give those looking for their very first job? Look like you know what you are doing. Sound like you know what you are doing. Be very quiet, except when there is a need to respond. What can you tell employees about the power of teamwork? This team consists of players. All of whom are important. If you don’t do your job, it affects the other nine people we have on this project. If you do your job, you enhance the work of the other nine people. And when you all do your jobs, you will each get the same kind of credit for the improvement that we’ve made in this particular area of the job that we got done. And you’ve all got to work together. In what ways do you think you can use negative thinking to positively affect your career? Be one of the first two to comment with your answer and receive an autographed copy of “The Power of Negative Thinking: An Unconventional Approach to Achieving Positive Results!”
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