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4 tips on leadership from Shane Battier's speech at FIU Hillel

4 tips on leadership from Shane Battier's speech at FIU Hillel

March 25, 2021 at 3:45pm

Former NBA star and current Miami Heat Vice President of Basketball Development & Analytics Shane Battier joined FIU Hillel and members of the university community virtually on March 24 for a discussion about success in life. 

Battier was a member of the Heat during the team's championship runs of 2012 and 2013. On Wednesday night, he was invited by Jon Warech, executive director of Hillel at FIU, to talk about leadership with members of the community. Participants included students from FIU and Duke University as well as community friends, partners and sponsors.

For an hour, Battier discussed lessons learned from his life's journey and took questions from the audience, highlighting specific tips that helped him along the way.

Here are three takeaways for being a better leader and winner from Wednesday's chat with Battier.

1. Develop a personal mantra

The Heat of the early 2010s made a lot of people in South Florida happy. Powered by a trio of All-Stars in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Miami stormed the national spotlight, winning four Eastern Conference Championships in a row.

However, not all of the attention put on them was positive. Battier recalled: "I had the great fortune of Twitter and social media telling me how terrible I was every single day."

It led him to be more intentional in what he was hearing—and who he was hearing it from. One of the most important people he could communicate with was himself, he found.

“The self-talk, the talk that I directed to myself, became some of the most important talk I had every day,” Battier said. 

He came up with a mantra to repeat daily in the mornings, a meditation he carries to this day. He recommended to the Zoom audience that they try one out as well.

“The first thing I do is I write in my gratitude journal, and I say I live for the three ‘Cs’: community, challenge and contribution,” Battier said. 

2. Embrace your next play 

Battier had another core message for students and community members on the Zoom: Leadership is possible not only from the front of your team, but also from the middle and the back.

No matter what role you are playing, you can be a leader by leaning into whatever comes next. Battier said he learned this first at Duke University from coach Mike Krzyzewski.

"There are hundreds of ways to impact a single play. You can make a shot. You can miss a shot. You can get a rebound. You can set a screen. The possibilities that happen to you in basketball are endless," Battier said.

"There are a lot of positive plays and negative plays. [Krzyzewski] would say, ‘Are you the type of player who admires how pretty you are? No, you get your tail back on defense. The quicker you get back on defense, the better you’re going to be,'" Battier said.

3. Control what you can control

Battier said on Wednesday that while he was not the most athletic player in the NBA, he might have been the most valuable for his contract's value.

"I got traded to the Houston Rockets in 2006, and they were the first organization to implement data analytics as a philosophy. It had been done in baseball, but not basketball. And what the general manager from the Rockets found was that for my salary, I was like an All-Star player," Battier said.

Battier's game was not to go for flashy dunks. Instead, he focused on all of the little things.

"People get intimidated by analytics. And yes, there’s high-level stuff. But what it really is is the incremental level of impact. Always doing the little things that made my team better, whether that was getting Starbucks for my team, or helping him up after he made a play, or passing the ball. What I realized in the world of analytics is that they add up," Battier said.

By controlling what he knew he could control, Battier became a better player.

4. Do what it takes to help your team win

Of all the questions Battier said he gets normally, few are about his individual accomplishments. Instead, he gets two questions mainly: "Where do you keep your championship rings? And how do you decide which one you want to wear?: 

Battier explained that he wears his 2013 ring the most, and it is because of his pride in how he contributed that season.

It was a rough year for a while. The analytical Battier was often times not as big as the people he guarded. He got bruised up toward the end of the Heat's schedule. Soreness crept in, and it affected his shot for the worse.

"I was fatigued. I couldn’t hit a shot. My playing time went to like two minutes per game," Battier said.

Soon, coach Erik Spoelstra benched him. Battier was given his first "Did Not Play, Coach's Decision" of his then 14-year NBA career. While the Heat kept winning, Battier was full of questions as to whether he would be a meaningful contributor as a player again.

The first four games of the finals went by and Battier didn't check into the game once. He decided to embrace his role on the bench and cheer on the team, staying prepared to play in the meantime.

Finally, Battier's name was called later in the series. And in the clinching game of the finals, the 34 year-old knocked down six three-pointers on eight attempts, setting an NBA record for efficiency at that time.

“It was a dream scenario. I had the biggest game of my life right after I had the lowest point of my basketball career,” Battier said. 

Battier was able to swallow his pride and remained focus so that he could deliver when the team needed him most.

At the end of the call, Battier explained why he thought it was important to share his story with students. 

“I would not have been here without opportunity, and maybe more importantly, the ability to know that success can happen," Battier said. "I want people to know that it is attainable, if you believe, if you put in the work, if you have purity of the heart."