Coach Wooden One-on-One

Summary Written by Parin Patel

The Big Idea

Compete Against Yourself. No One Else.

"I’m fiercely competitive, so the games were important. However, the best competition I have is against myself – to become better. I did this with my teams, too. The competition was not so much against other teams as it was against ourselves – making us better."- Coach Wooden One-on-One, Day 18: Cake & Frosting

In the arena of sports and business (and life in general, actually) it’s very easy to find yourself focusing on “the competition”. Focusing on what “everyone else” is doing.

But in reality, we are our own greatest competition.
We are our own greatest ally, and greatest enemy.

Coach emphasized that no matter what, we must always compete against ourselves, raising our own bar according to our own goals and belief in what we thought was possible.

The focus was always on improving yourself to the best of your ability.
If you truly did your best every day, then you will see improvement.

And that, according to Coach, is true success.

“I knew if we improved, we would win more games, but winning was always the by-product of improvement. I wanted us to be the best we could be.”

Here are two methods to always focus on to ensure your best.

Insight #1

Focus On Things In Your Control

"The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control."- Coach Wooden One-on-One, Day 13: Overcoming Adversity

Whether it’s traffic during our commute to work, or officiating what we don’t agree with during games, we must always remember that we are always in control of how we think, act and behave in each and every single moment.

Regardless of external circumstance, the choice is always ours.

The fact is that we will most definitely face adversity and hardship in life. Both personally, and professionally, but it’s up to us how we respond (and move on).

It’s this very mindset that helped Coach not only be successful in the arena of basketball, but also in life.

“As I entered adulthood, I faced the same kind of challenges my folks had faced and had to quickly learn to get along with very little. A few days before Nellie and I were to be married, a bank failure took my life savings of $909.05, which was a lot of money in those days. A friend loaned us cash so we could get married anyway. I left to fight in World War II, and when I returned, another financial problem awaited me: the bank had foreclosed our home. My parents had shown me how to handle the setback, so we packed up and moved on… I had not thought of it as a hardship at the time, and I never made excuses.”

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Insight #2

Follow The 2 Sets of 3 & The 7-Point Creed

"My dad passed on powerful principles to me. He often used words that I have carried to this day… He said, ‘If you never lie, you’ll never have to remember what you said.’ Then he added, ‘Never try to be better than somebody else. Always learn from others and never cease trying to be the best you can be.’ "- Coach Wooden One-on-One, Day 11: Powerful Principles

When Coach was in grade school, his father gave him “a wonderful formula for success – two sets of three”:

Don’t lie. Don’t whine.

Don’t cheat. Don’t complain.

Don’t steal. Don’t make excuses.

And when Coach graduated from grade school, his father gave him two things.
One was a two-dollar bill. The other was a card which had his father’s Seven Point Creed:

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Help others.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings everyday

I hope these two principles help you in your journey, as they did Coach in his journey.

Coach Wooden One-on-One gives us a look into the heart of what made John Wooden the successful coach, teacher, mentor and individual he went on to become. It’s filled with the many principles and philosophies that highlight how Coach approached various situations in life, and gives me a much better appreciation for the simple, yet profound wisdom, his father bestowed upon him. And we’re fortunate that he’s shared it with us as well.

“Time lost is time lost. It’s gone forever. Some people tell themselves that they will work twice as hard tomorrow to make up for what they did not do today. People should always do their best. If they can work twice as hard tomorrow, then should have also worked twice as hard today. That would have been their best. Catching up leaves no room for them do their best tomorrow. People with the philosophy of putting off and then working twice as hard cheat themselves.”

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Jay Carty

An “unusual communicator” is a mild statement. Maybe a little “nuts” would be more accurate. He’s certainly “off the wall.” Not a preacher, not a teacher… more a story teller with a very important message. Fun, funny and provocative. Traditional, he is not. Challenging, he is. Where some “deep” preachers are too snoozy for the rank and file, and where some humorists don’t have much to say, Jay’s “stuff” is generally regarded as an unusual blending of humor and content. Youth won’t nod off, and neither will their parents. Jay Carty played basketball at Oregon State and coached there for two years. He was on John Wooden’s staff for three years at UCLA and coached Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Jay then played for the Los Angeles Lakers. Following basketball and a time in the business world, Jay directed a Christian conference center, was a church consultant with Churches Alive and in 1982 began Yes! Ministries, an organization dedicated to helping people say “yes!” to God. Jay crosses denominations and relates to a changing contemporary society as well as a broad range of age groups. Jay has spoken in churches, colleges, schools and retreat centers across the country. Jay and Mary make their home in Santa Barbara. They have two grown children.

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