Pat Summitt: Trailblazer, Coach, Legend, and Girl Scout

Pat Summitt: Trailblazer, Coach, Legend, and Girl Scout

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On June 28, 2016, Volunteers everywhere grieved the loss of Pat Summitt, the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history.

She was the head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team for 38 years. She won 1,098 games. She coached the 1984 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team to a gold medal. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She coached women’s basketball before the NCAA officially sponsored it as a sport. She helped transform women’s college basketball into a sport that got national attention.

Sure, she held her players to incredibly high standards, but guess what?


She was also a Girl Scout.

In 2009, Pat Summitt was the keynote speaker at our Women of Achievement Gala, and on that same night, she became an honorary Girl Scout! She said that Girl Scouts give girls courage throughout adversity, and we couldn’t agree more.

To honor this legendary woman, read her list of rules for success in any endeavor, The Definite Dozen.


The Definite DozenPat Summitt Girl Scout

Respect Yourself and Others

  • There is no such thing as self-respect without respect for others.
  • Individual success is a myth. No one succeeds all by themselves.
  • People who do not respect those around them will not make good team members and probably lack self-esteem themselves.
  • When you ask yourself, “Do I deserve to succeed?,” make sure the answer is yes.

Take Full Responsibility

  • There are no shortcuts to success.
  • You can’t assume larger responsibility without taking responsibility for the small things, too.
  • Being responsible sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions.
  • Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re never wrong.

Develop and Demonstrate Loyalty

  • Loyalty is not unilateral. You have to give it to receive it.
  • The family business model is a successful one because it fosters loyalty and trust.
  • Surround yourself with people who are better than you are. Seek out quality people, acknowledge their talents, and let them do their jobs. You win with people.

Learn to Be a Great Communicator

  • Communication eliminates mistakes.
  • Listening is crucial to good communication.
  • We communicate all the time, even when we don’t realize it. Be aware of body language.
  • Make good eye contact.
  • Silence is a form of communication, too. Sometimes less is more.

Discipline Yourself So No One Else Has To

  • Self-discipline helps you believe in yourself.
  • Group discipline produces a unified effort toward a common goal.
  • When disciplining others, be fair, be firm, be consistent.
  • Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work.

Make Hard Work Your Passion

  • Do the things that aren’t fun first, and do them well.
  • Plan your work, and work your plan.
  • See yourself as self-employed.

Don’t Just Work Hard, Work Smart

  • Success is about having the right person, in the right place, at the right time.
  • Know your strengths, weaknesses, and needs.
  • When you understand yourself and those around you, you are better able to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths. Personality profiles help.

Put the Team Before Yourself

  • Teamwork doesn’t come naturally. It must be taught.
  • Teamwork allows common people to obtain uncommon results.
  • Not everyone is born to lead. Role players are critical to group success.
  • In group success there is individual success.

Make Winning an Attitude

  • Combine practice with belief.
  • Attitude is a choice. Maintain a positive outlook.
  • No one ever got anywhere by being negative.
  • Confidence is what happens when you’ve done the hard work that entitles you to succeed.

Be a Competitor

  • Competition isn’t social. It separates achievers from the average.
  • You can’t always be the most talented person in the room, but you can be the most competitive.
  • Influence your opponent: By being competitive you can affect how your adversary performs.
  • There is nothing wrong with having competitive instincts. They are survival instincts.

Change Is a Must

  • It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts the most.
  • Change equals self-improvement. Push yourself to places you haven’t been before.
  • Take risks. You can’t steal second base with your foot on first.

Handle Success Like You Handle Failure

  • You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you handle it.
  • Sometimes you learn more from losing than winning. Losing forces you to reexamine.
  • It’s harder to stay on top than it is to make the climb. Continue to seek new goals.

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