Thomas Edison once said, "I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that it won’t work.” But he did find a way, a favorite phase of coaches. And the way to find a way is to focus on a way — a means of getting the job done. We must trust that an appropriate approach will provide us with what we want. In fewer than 10,000 attempts.
Well Lombardi, Wooden and Knight, and others like them, would have no problem with 10,000 repetitions. It would get done. The right execution, that is.
But let’s consider the attitude these three coaches had about winning. John Wooden never referred to the word. His UCLA teams won regularly and consecutively.
Bob Knight has this say (Scholastic Coach, December 1982): “You can keeping winning and losing in perspective by never thinking about either one. The ultimate objective is neither to win or keep from losing. I can tell people how to win some games, but I don’t think many coaches know to think about winning. The way you win is not by striving to just ‘win the game,’ but by striving to play the game as well as you can.” (Emphasis was Knight’s).
And now the words of Vince Lombardi, who bellowed them out on a particular day: “Winning isn’t everything; but it’s the only thing.” Off quoted, oft misunderstood. Lombardi had many one-liners referring to winning but that one followed him to his grave.
These words he spoke at a later time, relating to the infamous remark, are rarely heard: “I wish to hell I’d never said the damned thing. I mean the effect...I meant having a goal...I sure as hell didn’t mean for people to crush human value and morality.”
From "Coaching The Mental Game" by H. A. Dorfman