Google+ Followers

Monday, May 6, 2013

MAKE EACH DAY YOUR MASTERPIECE

The following comes from one of my favorite John Maxwell books, "Today Matters" and focuses on a visit he had with Coach John Wooden:

I mentioned earlier in the chapter that I fulfilled my lifelong dream of spending half a day with John Wooden. He is an amazing man. He coached basketball for over forty years. And, in all those years, he had only one losing season (his first). He led his UCLA teams to four undefeated seasons and a record ten NCAA championships, including seven in a row. No wonder he is called the Wizard of Westwood (the Los Angeles suburb where the UCLA campus is situated).
 
Before I went to see him, I spent three weeks rereading his books and devouring every bit of information I could about him. Then, on the appointed day, I met him for lunch at a little diner near his home where he eats regularly. When we met, he was ninety-two years old. But you wouldn’t know it to talk to him. He’s alert. And he is sharp!
 
As we ate, I must have asked him a thousand questions, and he answered them all graciously. I wanted to learn as much as I could about his leadership. I wanted to know why he thought he had been able to win as he did. He said he attributed it to four things: (1) analyzing players, (2) getting them to fulfill their roles as part of the team, (3) paying attention to fundamentals and details, (4) working well with others. I also wanted to know what he missed most about coaching. At first his answer surprised me.
 
“Practice,” he said. “It wasn’t the acclaim or the championships.” Then I remembered a quote from him I had read before our meeting. I later went back to reread it:
 
“I have often been asked when I first started dreaming about winning a national championship. Was it at Indiana State Teachers College or after I arrived at UCLA? Perhaps while I was a college player? I never dreamed about winning a national championship.”
 
“What I was dreaming about each year, if you want to call it that, was trying to produce the best basketball team we could be. My thoughts were directed toward preparation, our journey, not the results of the effort (such as winning national championships). That would simply have shifted my attention to the wrong area, hoping for something out of my control. Hoping doesn’t make it happen.”

Mix idealism with realism and add hard work. This will often bring much more than you could ever hope for.
 
We talked more about practice, and he said, “What you do in practice is going to determine your level of success. I used to tell my players, ‘You have to give 100 percent every day. Whatever you don’t give, you can’t make up for tomorrow. If you give only 75 percent today, you can’t give 125 percent tomorrow to make up for it.’”
 
As I listened to him speak, something steeled inside me. Before I met Coach Wooden, I had wanted to write Today Matters. After meeting him, I felt I had to write it. Everything he was saying to me seemed to confirm what I believed about how tomorrow’s success can be found in what you do today.
Mix idealism with realism and add hard work. This will often bring much more than you could ever hope for.
 
We talked more about practice, and he said, “What you do in practice is going to determine your level of success. I used to tell my players, ‘You have to give 100 percent every day. Whatever you don’t give, you can’t make up for tomorrow. If you give only 75 percent today, you can’t give 125 percent tomorrow to make up for it.’”
 
As I listened to him speak, something steeled inside me. Before I met Coach Wooden, I had wanted to write Today Matters. After meeting him, I felt I had to write it. Everything he was saying to me seemed to confirm what I believed about how tomorrow’s success can be found in what you do today.
 
After lunch, Coach Wooden invited me to his home. It’s a small, unassuming place. I got very excited when he took me into his office. He must have had a thousand awards and mementos on the walls—so many you could hardly see the wallpaper. And any time I asked him about an item on the wall, he would deflect the honor from himself and talk about the team. For a while, he read poetry aloud to me. His love for verse was evident as he read each with great expression. After about an hour, he said, “Just one more,” and read the following poem written by Swen Nader, one of his former players:
I saw love once, I saw it clear.
It had no leash. It had no fear.
It gave itself without a thought.
No reservation had it brought.
It seemed so free to demonstrate.
It seems obsessed, to orchestrate.
A symphony designed to feed.
Composed to lift the one in need.
Concern for other was its goal.
No matter what would be the toll.
It’s strange just how much care it stores.
To recognize its neighbor’s sores.
And doesn’t rest until the day.
It’s helped to take the sores away.
Its joy retains and does not run.
Until the blessing’s job is done.
I saw love once. ‘Twas not pretend.
He was my coach. He is my friend.

The poem touched me, and I mentioned that I knew Swen because our daughters had gone to school together. “He’s a good man, and he was a good ballplayer,” Coach Wooden responded. “You know, many of my players still come visit me.”
 
We talked for probably another hour and a half, and I began thinking that it was about time for me to go. But before I did, I said, “I’ve read that you carry something with you that contains your philosophy. Can I see it?”
 
He smiled and said, “I’ll give you one.”
 
He pulled out a card, a duplication of one that he carries with him always. And he signed it for me. On the card is this statement: “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
 
I thanked him for his time and I left, grateful that I had been allowed the privilege of being with and learning from someone I greatly respected as a coach, a leader, and a human being. As I walked back to my car, I looked down at the card. And there it was, along with other favorite maxims of John Wooden: “Make each day your masterpiece.”