Leadership Lessons from Coach Kay Yow (part 2)

Leadership Lessons from Coach Kay Yow (part 2)

The legendary Coach Kay Yow helped pioneer the growth of women’s basketball through her infectious passion and outstanding leadership. Through compiling stories from former Wolfpack women for the book Leader of the Pack: The Legacy of Legendary Coach Kay Yow, I gained an up-close look at the principles that guided her life and leadership.

In the first post of this three-part series, we learned the importance of perseverance. The second key to living a successful life is to:

Be Present

Living in the present means being “all there.” Some of us have trouble turning off our work brain when we walk in the door after a long day to greet our family. Or perhaps we’re so distracted by our daily to-do list, that we walk through our day without noticing the people along our path.

Coach Yow lived in the present in a number of ways, most notably in the way she took time for people. I’ve heard countless stories of the life-changing impact she made on the people around her, some who met her only one time.

In Leader of the Pack, Krissy Kuziemski Bowen tells how she, her twin sister Jenny and their friend Danyel had water cooler duty as freshmen—being relied upon to carry the big coolers to and from practice each day.

Exhausted one day after practice, they poured a glass of Gatorade and sat down on the bench before doing their duty. Here’s what happened next:

“While we rested, Coach Yow came over, we poured her a cold one and she joined us. To this day, I’m not sure why she did. Maybe she sensed that we needed her. Maybe she just had some extra time in her schedule that day. Whatever the reason, that simple action created moments that I still treasure today.

After-practice drinks became a tradition for us that year. Sometimes we sat in the quiet of Reynolds Coliseum, other times we watched the men’s basketball team practice. We talked about everything—classes, family, life, you name it. The only thing we didn’t talk about? Basketball. Some conversations lasted only fifteen minutes. Others, an hour. But no matter the topic or the length, I always felt better when we finished.” (p. 97)

Living in the present means noticing the world around us and how our engagement in it can make a difference for someone else. Coach Yow kept a busy schedule, but it didn’t stop her from taking time to speak and listen to players, coaches and even strangers. These seemingly small actions became a powerful part of her legacy.

Do you find living in the present easy or difficult? What practices help you stay “in the moment”? Please leave your comment below.