Former Jazz player Mark Eaton relays message of teamwork in new book
May 5, 2018
When Mark Eaton was playing basketball at UCLA, former NBA player Wilt Chamberlain pulled him aside and asked him why he was running up and down the court trying to catch players who were quicker than him. Chamberlain told Eaton to use his strengths and focus on stopping players from getting the ball in the basket.
"It was a really life-changing moment for me. I finally understood what my place was out on the basketball court," Eaton said.
From then on, Eaton followed the advice of using his talents and had a successful career playing for the Utah Jazz. He calls it "knowing your job," and he emphasizes it in his new book, "The Four Commitments of a Winning Team."
Eaton, a Park City resident and motivational speaker, released the book last month. He uses experiences from his life to provide tips for individuals and groups who are striving to build an efficient and successful team.
He said that the book is designed to help both managers and employees rethink how they approach their interactions with others. Businesses can benefit from creating a strong team that is aligned in its purpose and goals, which is similar to basketball and other sports teams, he said.
"It doesn't matter how many great players you have, if they don't play well together, you won't go anywhere. You'll just be going off in five different directions," he said.
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He spent years considering writing the book before sitting down to do it. He has spoken to corporations about teamwork for 10 years and heard from multiple individuals that they wanted more resources to learn about the topic, such as a book. Eaton would often put pen to paper to record his stories or thoughts, but always put his project back on the shelf.
Last year, his wife Teri finally encouraged him to finish it. Together, they found a publisher in Salt Lake City and pushed the manuscript through the editing process quickly in order to get it ready to go by the end of basketball season.
Now that it is done, he said that having a book published is both "wonderful and scary."
"You've put your life and your works in written form and you are handing it to somebody," he said. "That vulnerability has been a little intimidating, even for a guy (who is) 7-foot-4. But at the same time, it is a great feeling to know that it is done."
He said that it has been reflective to write his story down as well, because he has realized how exceptional some of his experiences have been. He was working as an auto mechanic as a youngster when an assistant basketball coach, Tom Lubin, approached him and asked if he had ever considered playing basketball.
"In the process of writing the book, I guess it became a bit more profound to me that, 'Yeah, I have had a pretty unique story and a pretty unique journey,'" he said.
He said that he loves helping people reach their full potential, which is why he does motivational speaking and wrote his book. He hopes to continue to speak on the topic and, potentially, write another book down the road.
"Ultimately, I look at the book as my gift to other people," he said. "The people that came into my life gave me some incredible gifts of coaching me and showing me what I needed to do next. The book is my way of passing it on to others."
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