Monday, March 21, 2011

March Madness: The Meaning of Success

By Guest Writer: Andy Schroeder, Physical Education and Health Subject Area Coordinator and Girls Basketball Coach.

March is my favorite month. We all have our favorite months: in June summer starts, August is my wife and I birthday and we usually take a vacation of some sort before the start of the school year, December is Christmas, but March, the sun starts to come out, you begin to have nicer weather, you have St. Patrick’s day, Spring break, but every March –March Madness!

If you’re not familiar with March Madness, March is the biggest basketball month. In high school if you are still playing in March, you’re an elite team, one of the few left to play. However, in college basketball, March is when the season gets really exciting. Every year in March every conference has a tournament. If you win your conference tournament you get to go to the big NCAA tournament. In the end, only one team in the country wins their last game.

When I think about the NCAA tournament I think about one of the most successful coaches in the history of all athletics: John Wooden.
Some facts about him:
- Born October 14, 1910, died June 4, 2010
- Enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1961
- UCLA men’s basketball coach from 1948-1975
- He won 10 NCAA championships – next best is 4
- 7 consecutive NCAA championships – next best is 2 and nobody has won 3 in a row
- Won 88 consecutive games – next best in men’s basketball is 60
- 4 undefeated seasons – no one has ever done that more than once.

We are talking about an extremely successful man in terms of winning.
We are also taking about a man who did not win his first championship until his 15th season at UCLA. John Wooden never viewed success in terms of winning and losing, this is reflected in his most famous quote about success:

This attitude, this philosophy, is embodied in his Pyramid of Success:

Wooden’s Pyramid of Success two cornerstones are Industriousness and Enthusiasm.

Industriousness – in plain language means that you have to work, and work hard. There is no substitute of hard work. The best people whether in business, law. Plumbing or art, all share this fundamental trait, they all work very hard at their craft. Individuals like Kobe Bryan, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, to name a few athletes, are legendary for their industriousness.

Enthusiasm – simply, you must enjoy what you do. Your heart must be in it. It must be a passion. As you all grow older, if you don’t like what you do, if you find yourself whining and complaining, don’t do it, get out, because if your heart is not in your work you cannot perform at your highest level. “Nothing great can be achieved without enthusiasm”.

At the center of the pyramid is Skill – you have to know what you’re doing and be able to do it well. Furthermore, you have to be able to execute all aspects of the job. In basketball you could be a great shooter, but you need to be able to get open. You could be a great coach, but you need to be able to make adjustments, and understand people. Just as a doctor. You could be technically proficient, but you also need to be able to diagnose illnesses and understand and communicate with your patient. The point is that there are a wide range of skills, and they differ from profession to profession, but you need to master them all.

At the pinnacle of the pyramid is Competitive Greatness, which Wooden defines as “A real love for the hard battle, knowing it offers the opportunity to be at your best when your best is required.”

Which brings us back to success. Success is not wins or loses, but peace of mind, knowing that you did your best, to become the best you were capable of becoming when your best was required. Had the football or soccer teams lost State, the season would not have been a failure; the team may have been disappointed at the end outcome, but definitely would not be a failure. And this is the genius of Wooden's success, because when you are continually chasing your best, the best you are capable of becoming, only you can determine your own successes and failures, because only you feel the self-satisfaction in knowing if you truly did your best.

What I want you to take from this, what I hope you understand, is that although I’ve been speaking of basketball, this talk is not about basketball. It’s about what you’re passionate about, whether that be teaching, service to others, art, music, piano, medicine, your family.

At the end of March Madness, sometime in early April they will play this video, with new clips:

As you watch this video from 2010, I hope you will see, people who are passionate about basketball, these qualities that Wooden speaks of: Enthusiasm, Industriousness, along with Loyalty, Alertness, Team Spirit, and Confidence. And once we understand the qualities associated with success we can then utilize them towards what we as individuals are passionate about to have a better opportunity of achieving success in our future endeavors.



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