Coaching for Success: An Interview With the Legendary Coach George Raveling

Coach George Raveling is one of most well known and beloved figures in the sports world. He is currently Nike’s Director of International Basketball and has been inducted to several Halls of Fames including the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the College Basketball Hall of Fame. At age 80, Coach Raveling remains a voracious learner and reads each month more than most people do in a year. Part of his 2016 top book recommendations were Ryan’s Ego is the Enemy and The Obstacle Is the Way, both of which are inspired and rooted in Stoic philosophy. It was an honor to have an opportunity to talk to Coach Raveling and ask him about his coaching philosophy, book recommendations, favorite advice he has received over decades interacting with some of the most powerful men and women and more. Enjoy our interview with Coach Raveling below!

Oh, and for those of you that might have heard the story, yes, it is true. Coach Raveling does have the original typewritten “I Have a Dream” speech from Martin Luther King Jr, which was handed to him at the end of the speech by the man himself!

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How would you describe your coaching philosophy? Are there any key principles you’ve operated on as a coach?

Rarely have I ever viewed myself as a ‘Coach.’ For many years, the sign on my office door read, “George Raveling ‘Educator’.” My fundamental responsibilities have always centered around being an ‘Educator/Servant Leader.’ Thus, every day is an opportunity to engage in knowledge sharing. “Coaching” is 99% about being sensitive to the needs of others. At this stage of my life I see myself as someone who views service to others as a deep personal calling.

 

Having worked with thousands of elite athletes over the years, what do you find are the most beneficial and useful daily rituals that one should implement in their lives? Have you seen a particular habit dramatically pay off?

Allow each day to be governed by the word ‘More.’ Be more. Do more. Have more. Contribute more.

 

You’ve implemented “Reading with Raveling,” a program designed to improve inner city kids’ reading skills and also are a voracious reader. What are some book recommendations from you that the Daily Stoic would absolutely love?

Masterful Coaching by Robert Hargrove

The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. Du Bois

What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack

Life Is So Good by George Dawson & Richard Glaubman

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

501 Must Know Speeches

10 Ways to Stand Out in A Crowd by Connie Podesta & Jean Gatz

The Gig Economy by Diane Mulcahy

The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester

Living, Loving, and Learning by Leo Buscaglia

Ebony & Ivy by Craig Steven Wilder

Why People Fail by Siimon Reynolds

The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (Ed. Read our interview with Robert here).

 

We originally connected over Stoic philosophy. Is there a quote you like from any of the Stoics that you like to share? If not, what would you consider are the quotes that you refer to constantly?

“If it is to be, it’s up to me.”

“The first sign of intelligence is to admit that you don’t know something.”

“If you and I agree on everything, one of us is unnecessary.”

 

You’ve met so many brilliant, inspiring people—from Harry Truman to Martin Luther King to Michael Jordan. What’s the greatest piece of advice you ever got?

“Never burn any bridges behind you; someday you might have to retreat.”

“There are more horses’ asses in the world then there are horses.”

“Sometimes you have to be wrong, so someone else can be right.”

 

What keeps you traveling and reading and working at 80?

What I don’t know, but NEED to know to remain relevant in the 21st Century.