John wooden was one of the finest minds ever to be involved in sport; he was the head coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team where he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including a record seven in a row.
His methodical approach was legendary and no detail no matter how small escaped his consciousness, even the way that a player tied their shoelaces and arranged their socks.
Lets begin and enjoy a journey into the mind of a legend by examining 3 pieces of profound wisdom.
- Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts
All too often success is perceived as a fixed destination and it can be deceptively elusive as the sense of fulfillment is not alleviated but postponed.
All people have their own idea of success, and some may even share particular instances of success, and yet the actual designation of success is something that must differ in kind and degree with each varying circumstance.
The idea of failure operates in a similar way, as one person will call himself a failure if he does not achieve a goal within a certain time period, while another person may feel empowered and invigorated that he has more left to accomplish.
‘I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.’ – Michael Jordan
The quality of courage is often spoke about, and yet underutilized because it deals with facing uncertainty and a large number of people are fearful of the unknown. The philosopher Aristotle once said, ‘You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.’ That succinctly sums up the courageous aspect that John Wooden would instill into this players.
- Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.
It is an obvious observation, but an important one to understand that it is not a significant achievement to walk across a tightrope if it is laid on the floor. However if you are learning to walk with artificial limbs after having lost your legs in an accident, then that is a significant achievement indeed.
This is such an important point to understand, and it deserves a book in itself to really explore the depth necessary to do this point justice.
The ancient philosopher Sun Tzu, put it this way, ‘To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength;
to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight;
to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear.
To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.’
- You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.
This point is about having the strength of character to be in control of your emotions, and not to get caught up in the opinions of others that could either lead to hubris or despondency.
The important thing is to never lose track of your purpose and most important goals that are to be attained.
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