“Ubuntu” is about promoting the greater good through compassion, humanity, and oneness within a team.
“A Coach’s Rules for Life” was a Netflix docuseries released in 2020. The first episode featured Doc Rivers, a great NBA coach, describing the leadership rules he leads and coaches by.
One of his rules was “Ubuntu.” I recognized it immediately. I heard the term when he led a remarkable renaissance with the Boston Celtics. I wrote you a note then and now I would like to share it with you again:
I admire the Boston Celtics.
They are a mix of young and old talent. As the team ages a bit, they are more often successful in how they think about and approach the game of basketball, as compared to having more extraordinary physical gifts than the teams they oppose. A different one of their stars will take the lead and be the leading scorer on any given night. Every night, they are disciplined to play good team defense and to rebound aggressively. If you love basketball and team greatness, you will enjoy watching them play.
As you might expect, I also admire their coach, Doc Rivers. His team reflects his approach to the game: tough-minded, disciplined, team first.
If you watch the Celtics closely, you notice at the end of timeouts, they grab hands and repeat a word aloud before they commence playing again. The word is “Ubuntu.”
Rivers heard the word when studying the Reverend Desmond Tutu in South Africa. “Ubuntu” is rooted in the Bantu languages of southern Africa, meaning “a philosophy of life that promotes the greater good rather than individual success.” That is how Rivers thought his team should approach the game. He taught them the word and its meaning. They adopted it in 2009 and rode it to the world championship.
I am consistently impressed with the spirit of selflessness exhibited daily in our company. I see all sorts of cooperation, which is rare among other enterprises.
So whether you knew it or not, that’s “Ubuntu.” Let’s keep after it.