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Issue 409 - Competition should Elevate not Deflate (Roy Williams Part 11)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 9 Issue 409
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



We should teach our children to enjoy competition and have fun with it. We should also teach them not to get deflated if the outcome was not what they had hoped for, nor too carried away if it was to their liking. Coach Wooden put it best when he defined Competitive Greatness as "Be at your best when your best is needed. Enjoyment of a difficult challenge."
In his terrific book, Hard Work with Tim Crothers, Hall of Fame North Carolina Coach Roy Williams describes how his third-grade teacher inspired him to compete and elevate his performance:
"I had no dreams. No goals. Nothing whatsoever. My dad worked at a sawmill, my uncles worked at a sawmill, and my grandfather had his own little sawmill. I didn't think about it much, but I guess I figured that would be me.
I wanted to be good in school, though. Some of my older cousins and uncles had trouble reading, and I knew that I didn't want to be like that.
And then, when I was in the third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Cheek, put up a list of the top 10 students in the first grading period. There were only 25 kids in the class, but my name was not on the list. She put it up on this little chalkboard right beside the regular blackboard and I had to go in there every day for six weeks and stare at it, and that really ticked me off.
After that, for the next five grading periods, my name was the first one on the list. To see my mother's reaction when I brought those report cards home was so important to me. She was so proud that she told all my relatives about my grades.
Whenever anybody asks me how I came to be so competitive, I trace it directly back to that experience. That's the first time I can ever remember any competition at all, except for fighting. And that was the first time that I ever even thought about competition. Now most of my friends think of me as the most competitive person they've ever met. So, I kept trying to be a good student for those two reasons: because I wanted my name on that board and because I thought it would make my mom happy. Not because I saw it taking me anywhere."
I don't believe we help young people when we shelter them from competition. I think we help them immensely when we teach them how to compete properly.
  1. Focus on the process, not the outcome.
  2. Don't compare yourself or worry about those you are competing with. Doing that is a distraction and you will be worrying about things you can't control.
  3. Look forward to and enjoy a difficult challenge. Have fun with giving your best effort in the most challenging situations.
  4. Feel good whatever the outcome is, provided you gave your best effort. Learn from the experience and be eager to seek another difficult challenge.
  5. Let the competition elevate, not deflate you.
Mrs. Cheek helped Roy Williams learn how to enjoy competition. Who can you help?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




Watch Video

Application Exercise




Ain't it fine when things are going
Topsy-turvy and askew
To discover someone showing
Good old-fashioned faith in you?
Ain't it good when life seems dreary
And your hopes about to end,
Just to feel the handclasp cheery
Of a fine old loyal friend?
Gosh! one person to another
Means a lot from day to day,
Seems we're living for each other
In a friendly sort of way.
When a smile or cheerful greetin'
Means so much to folks sore,
Seems we ought to keep repeatin'
Smiles an' praises more an' more.

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






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