3 Key Takeaways From “Eleven Rings” That Apply to Sales Coaching

Will Kloefkorn
Dec 1, 2017 · 4 min read

In his attempt to help individuals escape “The Matrix”, Tom Bilyeu, founder of Impact Theory, has a reading list of 25 books which he recommends that everyone read to better understand how they can unlock their potential. I have decided to dedicate myself to reading a book per week for the next 25 weeks, and to review each book antidotally with application to coaching. Let’s enjoy the journey together!

Book # 16: Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson

I don’t find it the least bit surprising that one of the most successful coaches of all time spends much more time focusing inward than he does outward. Phil Jackson, whose nickname happens to be the “Zen master” is an enigma, but when you dig into the pages of Eleven Rings, it becomes very clear how and why he was able to be such a successful coach.

Throughout the book Jackson speaks about his personal journey to realizing his true self and the impact it has had on his life and coaching style. He offers countless lessons from the teachings of Buddha, Jesus Christ, Zen, and other spiritual teachers and offerings. What I loved most about this book were the examples of how Jackson focused on the mental side of performance in order to help his players maximize their individual and team performance on the court. For example, few coaches are comfortable enough in their own skin to hold mindfulness meditation sessions with their players before focusing in on the X’s and O’s. But that is precisely what Jackson did throughout his career and his results speak for themselves.

3 takeaways from “Eleven Rings” that apply to Sales Coaching

  1. Individualize everything — Above all else, Jackson understood that each of his players were their own individual and they needed to be coached as such. For example, Michael Jordan’s needs were much different than Dennis Rodman’s. It is imperative for sales coaches to look into the hearts and minds of their salespeople if they truly want to understand how they can effectively coach them. I have always said “If you don’t know me — you can’t coach me”.

“If you don’t know me — you can’t coach me”

3. Consider mindfulness — Have you considered incorporating meditation as a sales leader for yourself and your team? If not, consider it. Sales is a cutthroat profession just like athletics and without clarity and peace of mind it is exponentially harder. This will be an unorthodox approach no doubt, but helping your sales people better understand their true self will go a long way when they are experiencing rejection on an on-going basis, which all salespeople experience. Here is a good article on the subject from our friends over at Hubspot.

This book was an absolute pleasure for me to read. About three years ago I became an avid everyday meditator, and the impact meditation has had on my life has been nothing short of profound. To read about how Phil Jackson was able to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into his everyday coaching practice was a treat. I believe with every ounce of my body, that mental practice and preparation in athletics and sales should receive at least half the attention that skills practice and physical conditioning receive if someone wants to achieve amazing results. Said a simpler way, where the mind goes — the body will follow, so don’t neglect it!

Next Review: Onward: “How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul” by Howard Schultz


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Ecsell Institute

Leaders in Sales Coaching

Will Kloefkorn

Written by

VP of Sales at EcSell Institute, Keynote Speaker, Avid Meditator & Mental Health Junkie. Father of two and enjoying every minute of it.

Ecsell Institute

Leaders in Sales Coaching

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