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Issue 142 - Ability May Get You to the Top, But it Takes Character to Keep You There

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 3 Issue 142
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



This popular quote from Coach Wooden summarized the key component of his continuous success, personally and professionally.
Coach commented on this idea in an OC Metro interview with Steve Churm in 2005:
Some people change when they acquire power, authority and material possessions. A person with character won't change. Character is what you really are inside. Some people have great individual ability, whether it's physical or mental. They may reach great financial success. But if they don't have character, they won't stay there very long. They'll go down fast and you'll find the road down is much faster than the road up.
Coach felt that complacency was the key character flaw that led to a lack of continued success. Coach summed up his perspective in his book Wooden on Leadership:
The infection of success is often fatal. Most people work harder on the way to the top than when they arrive. If you’re fortunate enough to get there, do not be swayed. Allow success to turn your head and you’ll be looking failure right in the face.
You can’t make up for poor effort today by working harder tomorrow. We kid ourselves: “I’ll buckle down to business tomorrow and work twice as hard.” No. If you can work “twice as hard” tomorrow, it means you’ve been holding something back, not giving 100 percent today. I want 100 percent today and tomorrow.
Continuous success has two areas where complacency cannot exist: work effort and a desire to improve. Improvement only happens when you continue to learn. The humble leader listens, learns and is eager to learn more. As Coach often said:
When you’re through learning, you’re through. Learning is a leader’s lifetime pursuit. You must never reach the point of self-delusion that suggests you know it all. Remind yourself, “It’s what I learn after I know it all that counts.”
When Coach was asked how he prevented his teams from becoming complacent once they started winning multiple championships, his response was short and to the point:
I tried to teach today is the only day in which you have control and what happened yesterday will not have any control over what happens today, except learning from it. You’ll never know a thing you didn’t learn from someone in the past, yes, you learn from the past but it’s not going to affect what you do today – tomorrow will be effected by what you do today. Today is the only day that amounts to anything and I tried to use that philosophy with my players to try to just become a little better each day.
Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry


The House by the Side of the Road


There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat
Nor hurl the cynic's ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Sam Walter Foss 





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