I just finished The Power of Negative Thinking: An Unconventional Approach to Achieving Positive Results by NCAA Coaching Legend Bob Knight. People who know me would recognize why I probably HAD to read this book just on the premise alone. But this is essentially Bob Knight’s leadership book.
I fully enjoyed the book on the premise alone and because I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to read a book where every page the author was kind of sticking it to all the blind optimism, happy talk, and militant philosophies of positivity that pervade our culture. It was a pretty awesome reading experience personally speaking 🙂
But it wasn’t a negative book at all. It merely was a book illustrating that it’s possible for prudent, prepared, problem solving people to be incredibly positive AND WISE in how they go about their business and accomplish goals. There’s fantastic historical references and tons of great anecdotes from his coaching days. I particularly loved the anecdotes from when he coached Jordan on the Olympic Team. But there’s just great and honest and realistic perspectives throughout. And you know what – I was prepared for a cynical and maybe edgy perspective, but that really wasn’t the case.
My favorite chapter was “A History of Negative Thinking Starting With the Bible” where he outlines the great wisdom found in Scripture and philosophers and leading thinkers that reflect admonitions of “No” or “Don’t.” He starts with the 10 commandments with “Thou Shall Not…” and goes all the way to JFK’s speech “Ask NOT what you can do….” All in all I found it to be a brilliant apologetic for why we have to be able to help ourselves and others understand not just what we should be doing, but what we SHOULD NOT be doing. Loved the book in a lot of ways and I read it pretty fast.
The only thing I think was left was the elephant in the room about how people see and perceive him as being a “negative” and even volatile guy. He never really addressed leadership from the lens of his own behavior and anger given it was such a significant element to his coaching journey. I would have liked to see more reflection or perspective on that area of his leadership and coaching because it did feel like an obvious omission.
But if you’re a college basketball fan or just enjoy reading contrary or different leadership philosophies I highly recommend it. I read it because I found it free on Amazon Prime and I easily believe it’s worth putting out a few bucks for.