Friday, July 13, 2012

Keep it Simple -- John Wooden

I have no shame.  I look for inspiration any place I can get it.  This time I found it in a sports book.

A guy in my office had this book sitting on his desk titled, "Wooden."  Hmmm, I thought, this name sounds familiar but I couldn't place it.  I opened the book and started reading about Coach John Wooden and his historic UCLA basketball dynasty winning 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including 88 straight games.

I sortof remember hearing my Dad talk about John Wooden and as I paged through the book I realized this is a guy who definitely knows something about motivation, so I decided to find out more about John Wooden and how he was able to get all these big guys to listen to him and win so many games.

John Wooden, who was 99 when he died in 2010, was raised on a small farm in south-central Indiana and he says in the book that the lessons he learned from his parents served him extremely well on and off the basketball court.  His priorities were steadfast: family, faith and friends.

John Wooden's book is now a go-to source of strength for me.  Yes, he was a basketball coach and many of his thoughts are directed to male athletes, but I still draw from the essence of what he is saying.  He is definitely an old school straight shooter but that's not easy to find these days and you can't argue with the results of his philosophy. 

Here is one of my favorites in a book that is chock full of John Wooden's wise observations about life.  I find this one in particular helps me keep things in perspective and move forward when I find that I am dealing with a particularly stressful situation:

Make Each Day Your Masterpiece

When I was teaching basketball, I urged my players to try their hardest to improve on that very day, to make that practice a masterpiece.

Too often we get distracted by what is outside our control.  You can't do anything about yesterday.  The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away.  You can do nothing about tomorrow.  It is yet to come.  However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today.  So make today a masterpiece.  You have control over that.

This rule is even more important in life than basketball.  You have to apply yourself each day to become a little better.  By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better.  Only then will you be able to approach being the best you can be.  It begins by trying to make every day count and knowing you can never make up for a lost day.

If a player appeared to be taking it easy in practice, I told him, "Don't think you can make up for it by working twice as hard tomorrow.  If you have it within your power to work twice as hard, why aren't you doing it now?"

If you sincerely try to do your best to make each day a masterpiece, angels can do no better. 

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