Goss: Lead and succeed with Sullivan, Fannin
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org October 11, 2013 7:48PM
Former University of St. Francis men's basketball coach Pat Sullivan | File photo
Updated: November 14, 2013 6:31AM
Pat Sullivan’s book has been published.
Jim Fannin will speak from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Lewis University.
If you ever felt you needed a refresher course in leadership, in getting the most from your abilities and those of your team inside and outside the athletic arena, these are two opportunities you do not want to miss.
Sullivan’s book is entitled, “Attitude, the Cornerstone of Leadership.” It is available at www.amazon.com.
The former longtime men’s basketball coach and director of athletics at University of St. Francis and one of the most gracious people I know, Sullivan references three extraordinary men he has worked with through the years — Gordie Gillespie, Bishop Roger Kaffer and Dr. John C. Orr — throughout his book. Anyone with knowledge of Joliet’s history knows Sullivan went straight to the top for his leadership models.
Sullivan says leadership is all about attitude. He uses the word attitude as an acronym, giving each letter of the word a characteristic that exemplifies a good attitude in a leader.
One of the t’s is for thank you. Merely saying thank you and complimenting the other members of your team can go a long way. How often do we forget that or ever think of it?
Gillespie, of course, is a legend, highly successful as a football, baseball and basketball coach. He is the all-time winningest college baseball coach. He taught his players to be better on and off the field than they imagined they could be.
Kaffer’s roll-up-his-sleeves attitude was responsible for keeping Providence from closing in the 1970s, when his own committee recommended it be closed.
When Orr arrived in 1974 as president at St. Francis, the school was in financial difficulty. He saved USF from closure, brought it to national prominence and through it all was the president who sat down regularly with students in the lunch room and knew virtually all of them by name.
“How lucky is Joliet to have had those three great leaders?” Sullivan mused.
I thoroughly enjoyed his book. One sitting and I could not put it down until I finished it. The only downside? As Sullivan notes the “little” things that define leaders, I felt bad. I have missed so many opportunities through the years.
Fannin’s visit to Lewis is called “A Night with America’s Zone Coach, Jim Fannin.” His talk will be “Coaching the Mindset of Champions.”
During our conversation last week, Fannin, 64, estimated that he spends between 6,000 and 7,000 minutes per month on the phone with the best athletes in the world. He is not a coach in the traditional sense, but he may be the most important coach an athlete can have.
Based in the Chicago area, he was vital in Luke Donald’s rise to being the No. 1 golfer in the world. He worked with Frank Thomas throughout his baseball career. He has coached hundreds of champions in sports and business.
Lewis athletic director Dr. John Planek contacted Fannin to speak when Planek was athletic director at Loyola.
“Having spent 27 years in athletic administration, I was always searching for the answer to the question, ‘How can you help athletes perform at a higher level?’ ” Planek said. “I have come to the conclusion through my work with Jim Fannin that the deciding factor most often in competition is the mental focus and ability to perform under pressure (which Fannin terms the Zone) by the winning team. The team that gets into the Zone and stays there wins the contest. Jim Fannin gives you the tools to get your team in the Zone.”
Fannin’s talk Thursday is free to the public. It runs from 7 to 9 p.m., concluding with a Q-and-A session, in The Philip Lynch Theater at Lewis. A reception will follow.
Whether an athlete, coach or business leader, this is quite an opportunity. With the anticipated large crowd, anyone interested is asked to register at www.jimfannin.com.
Be at Lewis to hear Fannin, and read Sullivan’s book. Your life as a champion and leader may never be the same.