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Battier speaks on leadership

Character, courage and vision. When Shane Battier spoke these words Wednesday night, all eyes and ears were on the former Duke basketball phenom.

Following a highlight film featuring number 31, played to the music of Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You," the current star player for the Memphis Grizzlies opened by recognizing the leaders that influenced his life.

He called upon the wisdom of Coach Mike Krzyzewski as well as lessons he learned growing up in a home environment he compared to The Simpsons.

"I had to learn very young that I'm different," said Battier, who told the audience of his elementary school picture day, when he was the only student who was given a hair pick rather than a comb. "Leadership is not always cool. Leadership is not always popular."

Battier, Trinity '01, spoke as the first guest in a series presented by the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy and the Division of Student Affairs entitled "Leadership: A Commitment to Act."

The Birmingham, Mich., native brought the series' theme to the forefront of his speech, which was centered around the Davey Crockett quotation, "Know you're right and go ahead." Each part of the quotation represented a different quality: "Know you're right" refers to character, "go" to courage and "ahead" to vision.

He said he had not expected to be a leader of his freshman class, but focused rather on being the best person he could be and then the best basketball player.

"As a leader, it is important to have belief in yourself," he said. "People can smell fear and indecision in a leader. You have to know you are not going to have all the answers."

Battier compared courage to the moments following an important shot, when everything seems to move in slow motion.

"Coach K never got on us for missing a shot. He got mad for passing up a shot we had," Battier recalled. "Don't be afraid to miss. Failures and successes are markers of our strengths and weaknesses, but at the end of the game, you don't get a higher position in heaven or better karma."

He remembered the sweetness of winning the 2001 NCAA National Championship, but said part of the reward was knowing people didn't think the team could do it.

The summer before his freshman year, Battier was working for the marketing department of McDonald's Corporation. He remembered Coach K calling him every day, asking if he could picture himself in various scenarios of success. If he paused or stumbled over his answer, his coach would hang up and call back the next day.

"He was planting visions in my head," Battier said. "[Leaders] don't stop in their given field. [Leadership] is a gift and because so, we must use it to affect as many lives as possible."

Freshman Dan Riley said after Battier's speech that he had been following Battier's career since high school and had written in one of his Duke application essays that Battier was instrumental in developing his own sense of self.

Senior Obi Amachi said Battier's lessons were universal. "You can apply what he said anywhere in life, regardless of where you are, if you are an MBA or an undergrad," he said.

Amachi said he also liked Battier's message that even if a person does not have the natural spirit of a leader, he or she should not give up.

"He's very normal, very real," said freshman Corinth Hunter. "Only he's Shane Battier."He said he had not expected to be a leader of his freshman class, but focused rather on being the best person he could be and then the best basketball player.

"As a leader, it is important to have belief in yourself," he said. "People can smell fear and indecision in a leader. You have to know you are not going to have all the answers."

Battier compared courage to the moments following an important shot, when everything seems to move in slow motion.

"Coach K never got on us for missing a shot. He got mad for passing up a shot we had," Battier recalled. "Don't be afraid to miss. Failures and successes are markers of our strengths and weaknesses, but at the end of the game, you don't get a higher position in heaven or better karma."

He remembered the sweetness of winning the 2001 NCAA National Championship, but said part of the reward was knowing people didn't think the team could do it.

The summer before his freshman year, Battier was working for the marketing department of McDonald's Corporation. He remembered Coach K calling him every day, asking if he could picture himself in various scenarios of success. If he paused or stumbled over his answer, his coach would hang up and call back the next day.

"He was planting visions in my head," Battier said. "[Leaders] don't stop in their given field. [Leadership] is a gift and because so, we must use it to affect as many lives as possible."

Freshman Dan Riley said after Battier's speech that he had been following Battier's career since high school and had written in one of his Duke application essays that Battier was instrumental in developing his own sense of self.

Senior Obi Amachi said Battier's lessons were universal. "You can apply what he said anywhere in life, regardless of where you are, if you are an MBA or an undergrad," he said.

Amachi said he also liked Battier's message that even if a person does not have the natural spirit of a leader, he or she should not give up.

"He's very normal, very real," said freshman Corinth Hunter. "Only he's Shane Battier."

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