Melanie Glinsmann

Writing my way through the cubicle jungle one day at a time

Five Lessons On Success From a National Champion

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Photo: NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAvolleyball)


On Saturday night, Nebraska Cornhuskers’ fans were glued to the television watching our volleyball team take on Texas for the 2015 national championship. Texas has been a long-time nemesis, so beating them was especially gratifying. What made this season even more special was that the finals were played in Omaha, less than an hour’s drive from the Nebraska campus. Husker fans responded accordingly by setting a new attendance record for the most people to ever watch an indoor volleyball match in the United States.

During any given season in any sport, coaches make adjustments to help their team win. Husker Coach John Cook is no exceptions. After some early season struggles, he made changes to the lineup and even asked some players to learn new positions. The players responded by playing better and reaching the pinnacle of college volleyball.

Coach Cook’s lessons go beyond the court. His leadership decisions and the players’ trust in the coaches epitomize what it takes to be successful in any field or discipline.



Before each season, Coach Cook and the players discuss their goals for the upcoming season. They players know from the beginning what they are striving for, but those goals help them focus on what they need to do day-to-day to reach those goals.

Whatever the goal, you need to be specific about what you want. Just saying “I want to read more” or “I want to be more organized” isn’t enough. Goals should be measurable and include deadlines for each step of the process.



When the NCAA announced this year’s volleyball championship would be in Omaha, Coach Cook had to decide how to approach the possibility of playing in the Final Four so close to home. Instead of the usual coach speak, saying the team wasn’t thinking about playing in Omaha, the team embraced the challenges that came with high expectations of playing in Omaha. During the championship celebration for the team, Coach Cook said “You have two choices. You can either just sort of go through life, or you can dream big. We dream big here.”

Successful people aren’t afraid to take on challenges. They understand success requires flexibility and a willingness to work through the ups and downs of accomplishing something big.



When Coach Cook asked several players to change positions during the season, some were resistant. But as they learned to play their new positions, not only did the team succeed, but also the players started to thrive individually.

In order to be successful, you must be willing to learn new skills. Those who want to maintain the status quo will fall behind those who willingly seek ways to improve. Whether it’s as simple as watching a YouTube video tutorial or a formal training program, learning new skills allows success-driven people opportunities to improve their work and connect with new audiences/clients.



With high expectations comes high pressure. Coach Cook utilized previous national championship Husker teams to help this year’s team manage that pressure. Players from those previous teams served as mentors to current players. The knowledge and experience of the past players helped guide the young Huskers through the long grind of the season.

Whether you’re a writer, a business professional, or entrepreneur, having a mentor who has undergone similar experiences can be priceless. Those who have already navigated the challenges of pursuing a dream can offer valuable advice.



Nebraska volleyball holds the current record for continuous sellouts for all of women’s college athletics. Nebraska fans are notoriously loyal and travel all over the country to support our teams. Fan support is crucial, but it’s also important the team has quality people behind the scenes – trainers, nutritionists, academic support. Coach Cook thanked the fans and his coaches, along with all those in supporting roles: “Any time you have a great team, you surround yourself with a great team.”

Successful people know they can’t do everything. They need quality people around them, both personally and professionally, to offer support, advice, and sometimes, to tell you the current plan isn’t working. Find believe who provide support and honest feedback.





  • What lessons have you learned from playing sports that benefit you in other areas of your life?
  • How do coaches and other leaders best motivate their teams to seek success?




2 Replies

  1. Fantastic blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
    Any tips? Thanks a lot!

    1. Melanie Glinsmann

      Hello! I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Between being sick and working overtime for my regular job, I haven’t been on here much. I appreciate your comments. Thanks for checking out my work. As to your questions, I completely understand. There are so many options for writers that it can be overwhelming. As to WordPress, I think it really depends on your ultimately goal for your blog. If it’s more just for fun or to share personal stories with family and friends, I think you’re okay with the free version. If you want to use your blog to build a platform for larger projects and/or eventually make money from your blog or online courses, then I would suggest going with the paid version. Using a self-hosted option (I use Bluehost) means you own the content and the domain. If you use the free version, you are more at the mercy of WordPress when they make changes to their site and terms. If you’re a beginning to blogging and/or writing in general, I would suggest checking out Jeff Goins. He is a writer and blogger who started out with just a simple blog. He teaches some paid courses on writing and bloggine, but his website/blog have a lot of great advise for getting started and how to build your platform. If your ultimate goal is having a larger platform, I’d also suggest Michael Hyatt. He was the CEO at a large publishing house, and now runs his own company to help people develop their own businesses, platforms, writing careers etc.. Lots of great ideas there too.

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