Sunday, November 24, 2013

Success, Wooden Style

Let's ask this question... What is success? Is success increasing your profits? Is it having 90% of your students passing a test? Is success going 12-1 and advancing to the state quarterfinals? Those are examples of what I call external success based on outcomes. There is nothing wrong with those measurements. They seem to satisfy the public... But do they really measure success?

For many years I thought that is how success was measured. If you won the game you were successful. If you lost the game you weren't. Then I read several pieces by John Wooden. He had a different definition of success... He said,
"Success is piece of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the very best you are capable of becoming." 

When I read that I had somewhat of an epiphany. It hit me that we need to first overcome ourselves. Instead of worrying about our opponents, we need to focus on become the best "we" that we can be. I decided to embark on a project. I began to research everything I could about John Wooden. I wanted to know why his teams were so successful. What made his teams excel?

First of all, they eliminated comparison based success. When we base our success in comparison to others we are going to find a lot of disappointment. We are going to find ourselves in a position where the ends justify the means. We will put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves... pressure to achieve sometimes unrealistic results. We also tend to be apprehensive. We worry about the external factors over which we have no control.

Bill Walsh used to say the scoreboard takes care of itself. You can't control what the other guys are doing. You can't control whether you are undersized or slower than your opponent. You can't control whether their facilities are better than yours. But what you can control is much more vital. You can control your effort, your attitude, and your enthusiasm each day. You can control whether you put everything you have available into preparing to be the best you can be.

John Wooden got it. The first priority of his teams was self-improvement. He did not care about what other people were doing. He focused on the development of his own players. He couldn't control the players that USC recruited. He couldn't control how they ran their practices. What he could control, however, was who he recruited, and how he ran practices at UCLA.

You can't control what your opponents are doing each day. They should be the farthest thing from your mind. You can, however, control what you do each day. You control whether you wake up on time. You control whether you put ten more pounds on the bar. You control whether you take a set off, or you do extra reps. You control whether you allow your athletes to cut corners.

When you focus on your own team you are focusing on what you control. You are able to focus on a process. This is real power. Real power is being able to control what you can control. Winning, or external success is a byproduct of taking advantage of that power you have. And, if you focus on being the best that you can be, everything else will tend to fall into place.

In January of 2016 I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense.
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the Amazon version for the Kindle. It has everything except the embedded video. You can order it here:

I also wrote a book on Tempo. It will greatly help you build a multiple tempo system with simple communication that will allow your kids to play with confidence. It also had over an hour of video clips! You can order the ibooks version here:

Order the Amazon Kindle version here:

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