The Five Pillars & Building Success

For those of you living outside of Charlottesville, you may not be aware that we are in the heart of the college basketball season. The ACC men’s basketball tournament begins today, and the University of Virginia is the #1 seed for the second year in a row. For a kid like me who grew up when the Cavaliers were doing well to be in the top half of the conference, the 33-3 record that the team has achieved in the last two years of ACC play has been amazing. So how have they done it, and what can we learn from their success?

Five Pillars

University of Virginia Coach Tony Bennett is a man of faith, and he builds his basketball philosophy around the life philosophy his father professed. Practically, that means adherence to the following five pillars: humility, passion, unity, servanthood and thankfulness. Before you go on, it’s worth thinking about each individually for a moment.


As exciting as the last few years have been for UVa men’s basketball, even the casual fan knows the defining moment. Last March the Cavaliers became the first #1 team to lose to a #16 seed in one of the greatest NCAA tournament upsets ever. Ouch. But with the five pillars as their core, Coach Bennett and the team handled the loss with dignity, and they have bounced back in 2019 with the grace and strength to achieve excellence.

Maybe we’ll be the only No. 1 seed to ever lose. It’s life. It goes on. We’ll have to get past that. For some reason this is what we’ve got to deal with, and my job now will be to say hey, how do we bounce back, our players and all that. — Tony Bennett


Very few people have to perform under the pressure and microscope that Coach Bennett and his young players endure. Nonetheless, the rest of us can benefit from their example and appreciate that success comes from having a solid core of principles that define you. Layer on a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication, and you’ll be in a position to succeed. Is success guaranteed? Not for basketball teams, and not for the leaders of start-ups or non-profits. But hope springs eternal. Go Hoos!

April 2019 Update: The University of Virginia men’s basketball team won their first national championship, capping a remarkable season of recovery and redemption from last year’s early exit. Toward the end they seemed like a team of destiny, winning their last three games despite trailing in the last twenty seconds of each. Congratulations to Coach Bennett and his players for proving that core values can lead to amazing success!