John Wooden: coach of the UCLA Bruins. In a 12 year period he won 10 NCAA championships including 7 in a row. As a coach myself, you look around for people who have done it so well, not only from an x’s and o’s point of view, but from the perspective of using sport to teach young men and women about qualities they should bring with them for the rest of their lives.
John Wooden is known for his pyramid of success, character qualities each person on the team should posses. These include Team Spirit, Poise, Enthusiasm, Skill, Intent, Cooperation, Loyalty, Industriousness(is that a word?), just to name a few. It’s a pyramid because the ones on the bottom are built on as we head to the top characteristic… Competitive Greatness.
Competitive Greatness: You are at your best when your team needs you to be your best + your team always needs you to be your best. After years of coaching you see this in competitors all the time. In the height of a big moment will people wilt and disappear under the pressure or will people be great or attempt to be great in those moments? It’s why I love to watch sports even when I really don’t care who wins. What will people do when the pressure is on?
This leads to Wooden’s definition of success. I confess I pull out one clause just to make it more simple, but it is this… “Success is the peace of mind which is the direct result from knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
The best that we are capable is born in practice and the confidence to achieve competitive greatness on game night will be there if you’ve done the prep work. Let’s be honest, we’d all like a short cut, confidence without the work. Wooden was notorious for making practice so hard that games were easy comparatively.
I told my JV team this year, I want you to play the best that you are capable. If we’re up by 20 or down by 5 all of this is a success if you play to what you are capable. Then practice is not just a chore to get through so you can get to the games that are more fun. Practice is a chance to work on excellence, then have the confidence when it really matters.
The best things in life are worthy of our best effort. Faith, family, friends, work, hobbies, folding laundry!! Of course there is a balance we all need to find, it’s not about doing everything perfectly, but it’s always a good question to ask, am I doing the best that I’m capable? There is a peace of mind in knowing, by the grace of God I’ve done my best this day. By His grace I’ll do my best tomorrow.