Butler University awarded its former successful coach, Brad Stevens, with an honorary doctorate at Saturday’s commencement held at the Butler Bowl. Stevens played basketball at DePauw University in Indiana and graduated in 1999. Now he has another degree.
“Having a degree is an honor,” he said to the crowd. “It’s such a great thing to be back home.”
Stevens, who spent 13 years at Butler and just completed his first season at Boston Celtics head coach, addressed the graduating class and their families for about 10 minutes before degrees were passed out.
Stevens said before arriving at Butler, he was “intrinsically motivated to check off boxes.” He would address the task at hand, get it done, check it off and then move on to the next. As a fellow goal-oriented person, that registered with me. In school, it was learning the necessary information for a test, then forgetting it immediately after.
Stevens’ four bullet points:
1 – “Learn the value of learning and learn the value of growing.”
2 – “Don’t let your attitude be controlled by the circumstances.”
3 – “The magic is in the work. You got to work. You got to grind.”
4 – “There is no bigger asset than people.”
More to the last one, he said “get the right people on the bus and then get them in the right seat.” People are our greatest assets; that has to be understood. Not all are the same, however. Find ones that give off energy rather than drain it. Surround yourself with positive thinkers, with people that give off positive energy.
Stevens encouraged everyone to visit YouTube and take six minutes to watch “Grit,” referring to Angela Lee Duckworth’s talk at the TED Conference in May 2013. A former teacher, Duckworth chose to study what characteristics successful people possessed. Was it a great home life, money, how safe they felt or how smart they were? Not necessarily.
Grit — the willingness to work hard, stay after it and continue after one’s goals despite their circumstances — was the prime indicator.
“We need to take our best ideas, our strongest intuitions and we need to test them,” Duckworth said in her speech.” We need to measure whether we’ve been successful, and we have to be willing to fail. To be wrong. To start over again with lessons learned.”
Stevens’ full speech can be viewed in the embedded player below:
“We’re rooting hard for the Bulldogs in Massachusetts,” Stevens said in close, with a proud smile.