year I always like thinking about goals and success. While all of us want to
be successful, most people differ on what constitutes being a success. It’s
especially important when working with kids to help them define for them
what their goals for success should be. When your child comes home with an
“B+“ on their math test, are we happy or do we ask them why they didn’t get
an “A”? As we’ve discussed, statistically none of our kids are going to be
professional athletes, let alone the next Michael Jordan, Nolan Ryan or
Peyton Manning, but can they still be successful in sports? In school, in
sports and in life, each of us can be a huge success if we are working with
the right definition. Therefore, this month we’ll define success, look at
Coach John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” and apply these lessons to our
Definition of Success
John Wooden is the benchmark against which all other coaches are measured
and judged. After all, he led UCLA to 10 NCAA basketball championships in 12
years and was elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame as both a coach
and a player. At 95 years of age, Coach Wooden is still vibrant and very
giving of his time; he signs autographs at every UCLA home game which is
equally thrilling for the kids, their parents and their grandparents. Yet,
in spite of all his unbreakable records, John Wooden would be appalled by
the statement that he is a measuring stick that others use to judge their
definition: “Success is peace of mind that is a direct result of
self-satisfaction in knowing you gave your best effort to become the best of
which you are capable”. This is a completely different measure of success
than most people and it means that success actually comes from within. If
you do your best
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
to be your best, then you should feel good about yourself and that “success”
should give you peace of mind. This is very simple, profound and elegant. If
we measure success only against “the best” then we are all destined to fail.
For example, if you consider financial success to be something of
importance, then Warren Buffett would be a failure compared to Bill Gates,
but successful compared to everyone else in the world. Is Warren Buffett a
failure? He might be under John Wooden’s definition while any one of us may
be far more successful than Buffet based on our effort.
Coach Wooden teaches us is that all of us can be successful by putting in
the effort to be the best of which we are capable. If we always do our best,
but we never put in the time practicing and preparing to be our best then we
haven’t succeeded. Regardless of the outcome of any activity, if a person
puts in the effort then they should feel the self-satisfaction that only
comes from that realization that they have done their personal best. Coach
Wooden never talked about winning any game. Instead, he stressed personal
effort and achievement. The key is that you never compare yourself to
others, but instead strive to reach your own standards of competency. Only
in this way can every person, whether a star UCLA player like Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar or the last player on the bench, be a contributor to the team
and a huge success.
The Pyramid of Success
If the apex of
the pyramid is “success”, how do we get there? Coach Wooden constructed a
roadmap for us to follow that he called the “Pyramid of Success”. Like a
true building, each of the 15 blocks supports those above it. You can’t
reach your own personal success without accomplishing each of the blocks
below and understanding the relationship of each to all the other blocks.
Coach Wooden’s 15 blocks are:
Industriousness – A cornerstone of the pyramid is the willingness to work
hard for your goals.
Friendship – Part of the foundation is the mutual respect and self esteem
derived from being and having friends.
– A component of self esteem and a key element of turning individuals into a
Cooperation – In order for any group to reach its potential, it is
imperative to cooperate.
Enthusiasm – The second cornerstone requires that you like what you’re doing
because it will allow an individual to put forth complete effort.
Self-Control – Emotional maturity allows for discipline and consistency in key activities.
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
– Being alert is important to personal achievement because it allows us to
see weaknesses, learn and improve.
Initiative – This block is to help alleviate the fear of failure by
overcoming inertia and taking the action to “make things happen”.
Intentness – The ability to finish what you start and remain intent on
accomplishing the goal.
Condition – The physical, emotional and personal morality that is required
to make your best effort.
The very center of the pyramid deals with having the ability and actual
skill needed to do all aspects of the job properly.
Spirit – Being the ultimate team player is not just the willingness, but the
eagerness to sacrifice personally for the benefit of the team.
Requires the understanding and self-confidence to realize that you are only
trying to accomplish and meet your own expectations.
Confidence – Believe in yourself and others will believe in you. Requires
total preparation and is a result of learning all the other blocks.
Competitive Greatness – The ability to be your best when it is needed. This
means that you don’t run from a challenge, but are instead drawn to it.
Making Kids Successful
like what they’re good at and often won’t even try things that they’re not
good at. This is the corollary to Coach Wooden’s definition of success and
deals with the expectations of others instead of understanding the goals for
each individual for achievement. As soon as a kid compares themselves to a
peer, or even worse, a sibling, they are destined to move away from the goal
of “peace of mind that is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing
they gave their best effort to become the best of which they are capable”.
Therefore, when our kids come home with a “B+“ the most important question
is how they feel about that grade. Did they do their best to be prepared for
the exam? Is this the best result that they’re capable of achieving? If so,
then they should be rewarded and feel good and especially to be satisfied
with their own satisfaction and peace of mind. If they didn’t prepare at all
for the test and got a “B+“ then they should not be satisfied with their
effort and we shouldn’t be as a parents.
also true in sports. Not every player will be the best in the league or even
the best on their team. However, if they put forth their best effort, play
and practice with enthusiasm and put their team first, that’s a great
outcome – regardless of if they win or lose any game or how well they
the way we all view success, each of us can head into the new year with a
different approach to the goals and resolutions that we set. Furthermore, as
we talk to our kids about what they would like to accomplish this year, and
in life, the focus should be on each child obtaining the peace of mind that
can only come from the self-satisfaction derived by doing their best to be
the very best that they are capable of.
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