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Issue 129 - Adversity is the State in Which Man Easily Becomes Acquainted With Himself, Being Especially Free of Admirers Then

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 3 Issue 129
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



This favorite quote of Coach Wooden's has been attributed to Samuel Johnson, a famous English author of the 18th century. The wonderful phrase: being especially free of admirers then, is a great reminder of the importance of keeping things in proper perspective.
In his book Practical Modern Basketball, Coach Wooden talks about a coach as a philosopher:
Webster tells us that, among other things, a philosopher is a person who meets all events, whether favorable or unfavorable, with calmness and composure.
Psychiatrists tell us that two of the possible symptoms of insanity are delusions of grandeur and delusions of persecution.
Since all coaches are subject to delusions of grandeur when their teams on occasion may accomplish what did not seem possible, and subject to delusions of persecution when every close call and every break seemed to go against them, they must be philosophically inclined to accept such events with calmness and composure and continue to make decisions in the clear light of common sense.
The coach must recognize that he will, at times, receive both unjustifiable criticism and undeserved praise, and he must not be unduly affected by either.
A key character trait in dealing with adversity in a positive way is maintaining our mental balance. We must be able to do this on our own because as Mr. Johnson so aptly pointed out, adversity will often leave us especially free of admirers.
The philosophical approach Coach Wooden describes makes mental balance a habit.
Coach put it this way when encouraging his players to have a balanced approach to competition:
I hope that your actions or conduct following the game will not indicate victory or defeat.
Heads should always be high when you have done your best regardless of the score, and there's no reason for being overly jubilant at victory or unduly depressed by defeat.
Coach continued by describing the impact he believed this approach had:
I am rather thoroughly convinced that those who have the self satisfaction of knowing they have done their best will also be on the most desirable end of the score as much, and perhaps more, than their natural ability might indicate.
Coach had a very consistent message that encourages us to welcome adversity, not fear it, because it is through adversity that we get stronger.
We all face adversity alone from time to time. The opportunity to improve is always there and we are in the best position to take advantage of it when we have mental balance of our own accord: being especially free of admirers then.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry


Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard


The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the Poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth, e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour:-
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Thomas Gray 





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