The Four Commitments of a Winning Team

The Four Commitments of a Winning Team

by Mark Eaton


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Why do some organizations regularly outperform their competition?
​What’s the key to creating a united team that’s an unstoppable force in your market?

The answer lies in eliminating internal competition, people knowing and doing their job, and protecting each other. As a starting center for the Utah Jazz for over 10 years, Mark Eaton experienced the transformation of his team from cellar dweller to one with an extraordinary 20 consecutive playoff appearances.

In The Four Commitments of a Winning Team, Eaton shares the lessons he learned in his incredible journey from a 21-year-old auto mechanic to a record-breaking NBA All-Star, distilled into a simple but powerful plan of action. This book will help you—whether you’re a CEO, team leader, or individual—inspire, strengthen, and motivate your team to outperform your competition and achieve record-breaking success.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626345324
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Edition description: Special
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 773,485
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Mark Eaton is a 7'4" NBA All-Star, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and author. He is passionate about sharing his teamwork message and has spoken to many world-class organizations including IBM, FedEx, Phillips 66, Caesars Entertainment, HEAD USA, Big O Tires, TD Ameritrade, Farmers Insurance, T-Mobile, Habitat for Humanity, and LG—as well as businesses, government agencies, and universities at every level. He has been featured as a team building expert in print and online publications such as Forbes.com, Sports Illustrated, and Entreprenuer.com.

In addition to his work on team building, Eaton is managing partner in two award-winning restaurants in Salt Lake City, Tuscany and Franck’s, recently voted Best Restaurant in Utah.

When Mark is not speaking, writing, or working he enjoys traveling with his wife Teri, horseback riding, mountain biking, skiing, and the outdoors. He lives in Park City, Utah with his wife, children, horses, dogs, and barn cats.

For more information about the author, visit www.7ft4.com.

Read an Excerpt


"Commitment separates those who live their dreams from those who live their lives regretting the opportunities they have squandered."


IT'S SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 1989, and I'm standing at half court in the Houston Astrodome. Forty-five thousand screaming fans crowd the arena, their combined voices deafening. Over 200 million fans will watch this game live on worldwide TV.

The announcer's voice booms through the speakers like the voice of God, sending chills down my spine: "And now, introducing your Western Conference All-Stars."

My teammates Karl Malone and John Stockton stand to my left. To my right are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon. Across from me Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Dominique Wilkins, Moses Malone, and Kevin McHale make up an imposing squad of giants.

These are the biggest names in basketball. I watch the crowd and listen as they roar from the upper deck and I feel small — a feeling that I, at 7'4", am not too familiar with. The reality of where I am settles in.

The noise in the arena intensifies. "From the Portland Trailblazers, Clyde Drexler!" "From the Los Angeles Lakers, James Worthy!" The fans shout their approval. They are so loud I feel the vibration of the court beneath me.

On the bus ride to the stadium, I had looked at my fellow players, struck by the talent seated around me. All world-class athletes, some of them had played in fifteen All-Star games! I wondered if this felt normal to them or if this wasn't a big deal.

It was a big deal to me.

These were the top basketball players in the world, and I was one of them. This was the ultimate honor: to be selected as one of the best in a profession. Nothing could possibly match this feeling. I can't believe I'm here. The reverberating sound from the Astrodome fades, and in my mind's eye, I see myself as a sixteen-year-old kid, sitting on the bench at Westminster High School in Southern California.

I'm wearing my sweats. There is no point in taking them off. I know the coach won't put me in the game — he never does. I try to remain focused on the play. I watch as our guard, Tony Engedal, takes the ball down the court and nails another basket. I feel disconnected from the crowd who throw their support and enthusiasm behind our team as they score bucket after bucket, putting us up by 25 points.

I glance up the bench just as Coach Ferguson gives me the look. I can see the wheels turning: He thinks our lead is big enough to risk putting me in the game. He gives me a nod, and I hurry to pull off my sweats. I head to the scorer's table to check in and hustle onto the floor. I glimpse my mom in the stands. She is always there, even though I rarely get playing time. I feel a moment of relief that my dad is busy working and can't be at the game. The earsplitting sound of the buzzer prompts me into motion. I take a deep breath and head onto the court. Do something right, Mark! Don't choke.

No sooner do I reach the court than a player from Marina High School steals the ball from our guard and transitions into a fast break, running up the court and moving into position to score. Players sprint past me to the other end of the court in a blur of uniforms. The coach screams, "Get back, Mark!" The words resonate in my head, but their guard is a foot shorter than I am, and ten times faster. He drives in for an easy lay-up just as I reach the free throw line. I feel every eye in the gym on me. I know what they're thinking: He's 6'11"! Why isn't he dominating? I wonder the same thing.

The Astrodome announcer's voice explodes through the microphone and pulls me back to the electric atmosphere of the All-Star game. "And now, at 7'4", 290 pounds, the NBA leader in blocked shots, from the Utah Jazz, making his All-Star debut, Number 53, center, Mark Eaton!" Time freezes. The sound is thunderous, the spotlight blinding. I smile, hold up my hand, and wave.

"And those are your 1989 NBA All-Stars!"

I glance up at the scoreboard: It reads double zeros on both sides with twelve minutes on the clock. The crowd settles in as the starters make their way to center court. The ball is tossed up; Olajuwon taps it out to Alex English. English makes a cross-court pass to Dale Ellis, who slams it home with a two handed dunk. I sit forward on the bench and cheer on my team. It was not so long ago that the bench had a very different feeling.

It was the start of my senior year at UCLA. My skills had improved and I was ready to play. Coach Farmer, however, doesn't know what to do with me. To him, I'm a 7'4" question mark on a team he's struggling to bring back to prominence in his debut season as head coach.

It's the bench and me again. Even though I work my tail off at practice. Even though I arrive at the gym earlier than my teammates and leave later. Even though I helped take my junior college team to the state championship, I'm on the bench. This is ridiculous. How am I supposed to get drafted into the NBA when I only play three minutes a game?

It's a Wednesday afternoon, four thirty, as practice wraps up at Pauley Pavilion and we head to the locker room. Tomorrow we board a plane and prepare to play two PAC-10 rivals, Oregon and Oregon State. I put it all out there on the court today in hopes Coach would see something to inspire him to give me more time in a game. After all, it is the last road trip of the season and the end of my playing career at UCLA. I am looking forward to this trip. As I sit down to take off my shoes, Coach Farmer asks me to step into his office.

"Hey, Mark," he said. "I just wanted to let you know that, uh, we won't need you in the Oregon series this weekend."

"I'm sorry. What did you say?"

"Just that, you know, we only have room for twelve players when we travel and we've decided to take a freshman with us. We are not taking you on the trip. I'm sure you understand."

My face turns warm, then flaming hot. Understand? No, I definitely do not understand why I will miss the last series of my senior year!

I make a beeline for the double doors. The lights are out, the gym dark. I grab the nearest thing I can find, a metal trash can lid, and hurl it as hard as I can. It crashes onto the court, skids, and rolls until it smacks against a wall, falls into a slow spin, and is silent.

As it lands, I hear the sound of my dreams being crushed.

I have given everything to this game, to this team. I know I can contribute. I saw it when I played at Cypress Junior College before being recruited by UCLA. Why won't these coaches give me a chance? What if this is it for me? What if I'm not going pro?

The jubilant cheering of the crowd brings me back to the action in Houston. The game is in full swing. Coach Pat Riley looks down the bench and motions to me. I pull off my sweats and head to the scorer's table. The horn sounds. I signal to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as I sub in, and he gives me a nod as we pass.

Charles Barkley is shooting free throws, and I take my place under the basket. I can't help but look at the crowd and wonder, how the hell did I get here? How did a benchwarmer from Westminster High School become an NBA All-Star?

Professional sports teams provide a spotlight for the world's top athletes. In the National Football League there are about 1,500 players, and there are nearly 900 players in Major League Baseball. The National Basketball Association is small by comparison with approximately 400 players at any given time — the elite of the elite.

I realize how fortunate I was to be among those 400, especially considering my career nearly ended before it began. For more than a decade, I played with a great team against the best players in NBA history. I witnessed firsthand that success is not guaranteed, even when the very best athletes play for the very best coaches. There are teams and players who struggle year after year, and those who excel. I know what the difference is. It is a simple but profound truth. Teamwork.

From every minute on the court, every speech in the locker room, every second of practice and training, I learned the transformative power of teamwork.

Retiring after an incredible career and twelve seasons with the Utah Jazz, I have continued to experience the transformative power of teamwork off the court. Using the Four Commitments of teamwork I learned from playing basketball, I have successfully started and run several businesses, worked closely with dozens of the nation's top business leaders, and delivered hundreds of presentations to the country's foremost companies and organizations.

Through all this, I have repeatedly seen the Four Commitments contribute to individual and institutional success. The results of teamwork — the willingness to work alongside others and develop a deep, synergistic rapport — invariably exceed people's greatest expectations. Conversely, I have seen the toll a lack of those same fundamentals can take on a team and its members.

Teamwork is often misunderstood. Countless people talk about it, but few truly understand it. Teamwork is something one assumes is automatically in place when one joins a team. However, the true fundamentals of teamwork are more than a mindset. They are more than the idea of working together. A team is a group of people who commit to each other. When that commitment happens, your team will be a united, unstoppable force.

Though many people hold the opinion that athletes are selfish, my years in the NBA taught me there was no room to be self-centered. With 20,000 fans in the arena focused on you, and millions more watching on TV, there is too much at stake not to collaborate and cooperate.

In the pages that follow, I will share the vital fundamentals of teamwork that have fueled my own success, and that of the teams and companies that I work with. I have used these to become a successful speaker, business owner, author, and community leader. Now, I share these commitments with you, distilled in a philosophy so simple, you can implement them today and see results tomorrow.


"Good things take time, as they should. We shouldn't expect good things to happen overnight. Actually, getting something too easily or too soon can cheapen the outcome."


MY NBA CAREER had a much less auspicious start than one might imagine. My big break came in, of all places, a tire store. Specifically the Mark C. Bloome tire store, where I worked as an auto mechanic.

I was in Orange County, California, made good money, and hung out with my friends. On top of that, I was able to get out to the docks some nights to help my dad. He taught a diesel mechanics class at Long Beach City College, but in the evening he liked to make a little extra money fixing boats. I liked the time with him.

It was a typical day at work. I liked the pace and the variety of tasks I was assigned. The year I spent after high school, working my way through trade school in Arizona, had paid off. My boss had promoted me from mounting tires to tune-ups, shocks, oil changes, and brakes.

I was content, and unaware my life was about to change dramatically.

I had just waved good-bye to a customer when a car screeched into the parking lot and nearly clipped me. Mark C. Bloome was located at one of the busiest intersections in Buena Park, so we were used to drive-up customers. The driver jumped out and ran over to me with such purpose I thought his engine had to be on fire at the very least.


"Uh hi, sir, is everything okay? How can I help you?"

"I was just driving by and noticed ..."

Please tell me this is about his car.

"You're tall!"

Here we go again.


"Really tall!"

"Yes sir, 7'4"."

"I was just wondering if, uh ..."

Don't ask. Please don't ask.

"Do you play basketball?"

I suppose it is an inevitable question when you stand head and shoulders above everyone. It does not mean, however, that I liked the intrusion. I was constantly barraged with very personal questions and expected to respond to absolute strangers or be judged as rude and aloof. At the grocery store, people asked me to reach things off the top shelf, while they sputtered on about how great I must be at basketball. Old men stopped me at the gas station and hammered me with questions about my height, and that of my parents and siblings. Everywhere I went I was on display.

"You've gotta play basketball, right?" the man continued as he paced in the parking lot.

"No, I don't. Now if you need a tune-up or an oil change, I'd be happy to help you."

"I just can't believe you don't play ball. You had to play in high school, right? Any college ball?"

I ignored his questions, let him know that the employees at Mark C. Bloome would be happy to help him with his future auto needs, and walked back in the shop.

Two days later, as I was finishing rebuilding a carburetor, he pulled in again.

Are you kidding me?

"Hi there, I'm sorry I forgot to introduce myself on my earlier visit. I'm Tom. Tom Lubin."

"Hi, sir. I'm Mark. Is there something I can do for you today?"

"Uh yeah, yeah. There's this, uh, rattle in my car. Any chance you can take a ride with me to figure out what it is?"

Well, at least I might get a commission out of this.

I folded myself into his two-year-old, bright orange Volvo, and we turned onto Lincoln Avenue. He chatted about the weather while I listened intently to the hum of the motor, which sounded perfect, no rattle.

"The noise usually starts up when the engine's a little warmer. I'll just drive a little farther," he said.

About two miles in, when the conversation shifted to basketball, I confirmed there was no rattle, none whatsoever. Annoyed at having wasted my time, I could not suppress the irritation in my voice when I said, "How about you just take me back to the shop, and let me out of your car?"

He did. I got out and he pulled away, an irritatingly pleasant look still on his face. Good riddance, I thought. I hope that's the end of that.

It wasn't the end, however. Nowhere near the end, in fact. Lubin showed up again a day later; this time he had a college catalog. He told me he taught chemistry at Cypress College, just a few minutes from the shop, where he also happened to be an assistant basketball coach. He wanted me to consider enrolling there so I could play ball on his team.

I rolled my eyes as I thanked him for his extreme interest in my life and explained I had already attended vocational school in Arizona. I had a job, and I needed to get back to work.

A couple days went by, and Lubin walked into the shop again! This time he showed up with a shoebox.

When will this guy give up?

"Open it, open it!" he exclaimed excitedly.

Basketball shoes. Size 17. How did he know my shoe size?!

"Thank you, Mr. Lubin, but I can't take these." I handed the shoes back, but he insisted I keep them.

I thanked him, dropped the shoes on my workbench, and got back to work on a brake job. The next week, just before we opened, I saw Tom Lubin on the other side of the door. I tried to ignore him, but he knocked persistently. The guys in the shop laughed, "Your stalker is back, Mark!" I shook my head in disbelief and stepped outside.

"Mark, good morning. I'm on my way to the gym for conditioning with the team, thought I'd see if you wanted to come join us. Getting into the gym is just as important as time on the court. If we start today, we can get you ready for —"

"Mr. Lubin, I know you mean well, but I left basketball behind three years ago. I played terribly in high school. The game never liked me, and I never liked it. I'm happy where I am. I like my job and my life. I am not interested in joining your team."

Undeterred, Lubin showed up again on Friday. He had Bruce Randall, another assistant coach at Cypress College, in tow. This time I continued to work on the car while Lubin talked at me, hoping they would get the hint. They followed me around the car like two shadows. Lubin jabbered on and on about the program at Cypress and all of the players he had helped get to the next level. Randall never uttered a word; his mouth just hung open as he gawked at me.

"The answer is still no, Mr. Lubin. I have no interest in playing for your team." Finally, after thirty minutes of doing laps around the car, they left.

The next day was Saturday, which meant no school and no Tom Lubin. Perfect, I thought. I'll actually be able to get some work done. I settled in to do a tune-up, happy to get a break from my stalker.

"Mark! Hey, I was headed to the lab today, thought I'd stop by!" Seriously? This guy is unbelievable!

"I don't know if I explained what it is I really do. Teaching basketball to tall guys, guys like you, is my specialty." He went on to explain he had played college ball in San Diego, and that he understood the game was different for tall men (Tom is 6'6"). He told me he had helped players like Swen Nater (who had a long career in the NBA and was ABA rookie of the year in 1974) and Rick Darnell (who played in the ABA for the Virginia Squires) go on to play professionally.


Excerpted from "The Four Commitments of A Winning Team"
by .
Copyright © 2018 MT Publishing, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword 1

Introduction 5

Chapter 1 9

Chapter 2 17

Commitments #1 Know your job

Chapter 3 37

Chapter 4 45

Chapter 5 51

Commitment #2 Do What You're Asked To Do

Chapter 6 67

Chapter 7 79

Commitments #3 Make People Look Good

Chapter 8 95

Chapter 9 103

Chapter 10 109

Commitment #4 Protect Others

Chapter 11 117

Chapter 12 129

Chapter 13 147

Acknowledgments 155

About The Author 157

Customer Reviews