Orchard Lab

A place to share my thoughts and learnings

Championships, coaching and zen

Posted at — Nov 10, 2022


There are books which its title can’t justify the greatness of its content.

The legendary coach Phil Jackson’s book Eleven Rings - The Soul of Success is definitely one of those.

I’ve known about Phil Jackson since middle school while watching NBA playoffs of Bulls and Lakers, he had coached the best basketball players like Micheal Jordan and Kobe Bryant, lead Bulls and Lakers to win 11 NBA championships across his entire coaching career. And yes I know at that time people called him Zen Master. Of course, I had zero idea or interest on what’s that even mean when I was a teenager back then.

I’ve always been put off by those kinds of books with “success” in the title, at the same time though, I’ve also attracted by the books with “soul” in the title. Mostly because I’ve been holding the idea of in-directness, or achieving things in the natural way too tight. Seeking success without meaningfulness to me seems unnatural and uncomfortable. But eventually I decided to pick up this book, it turns out that every bit of it is as natural as possible on leaderships, coaching and self actualization.

As a software engineer, I’ve been more and more realized that the importance of coaching, the relationships played to achieve your self actualization. During my past 15 years of career, I’ve had the most significant satisfaction and growth in the past 8 years at Amazon. I would attribute that to my manager, my mentor and friend Krishna G without a blink. Great manager or mentor are the ones helping you to find your own purpose and meaning to reach your actualization. Looking back, there are so many overlaps between Phil Jackson and Krishna in terms of coaching philosophy, making someone to become better themselves while contributing to the greater goals of the team. I feels extremely lucky being able to find the harmony working and delivering with a manager/teacher like him.

Maybe that’s one of the reason why I find this book resonate with me such given my experiences with Krishna.

We all often put too much attention on the heroic individuals, the super stars, the one man changes everything.

After reading the book, I had much more admiration and respects on Phil Jackson’s ability to accelerate Micheal Jordan and Kobe Bryant’s process of becoming a leader, enabling them to get the bigger achievements than before. Most importantly, to expedite the process of those super star’s actualization. Somehow, it made me feels the super stars are “less magic” than before.

I’ve learned so many from the book about finding the internal drive of working, about managing angers, about leadership, about team building, about finding your inner peace, about how to making choices, about achieving your self actualization. It’s a combination of the last second shot excitement and spiritual Zen-ness philosophies.

It’s philosophical while down to the earth.

I feel lucky that I opened the book and happy to find the reason why some of my experiences makes me happy or sad. Above all, it makes me cherish more about the people I am working with, the current moment.