Having bad examples can be just as effective as having good ones.

I recently read Wright Thompson’s fantastic article about Coach K (Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski). There was a really interesting anecdote about Coach K’s relationship with his one-time mentor Bobby Knight.

“He has spent his final season surrounded by the relationships he built over five decades, relationships that remain intact in no small part because he saw firsthand how not to treat someone.”

Thompson goes on to contrast Coach K’s farewell tour (he is retiring after this season) with Knight’s, arguing that based on seeing Knight become “the fifth-winningest¹ coach who destroyed everything he built” actually taught Coach K how to let go of hate and resentment.

Too often I believe we see negative behavioral cycles repeated. We shouldn’t use bad examples be an excuse for us to repeat them, but instead let the pain we endure because of another’s lack of empathy fuel us to not put others through the same.

1- Coach K is the all-time winningest NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball coach of all-time. Knight is fifth.