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issue 57 - Attitude.

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 2 Issue 57
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login

People are usually as happy as they make up their minds to be. This maxim of Coach Wooden’s is a reminder that the attitude we assume when faced with disappointment is truly up to us.
The influence of his father helped Coach Wooden develop a mental approach that responded to disappointment with self-control and reason rather than reacting emotionally.
In his book My Personal Best, with Steve Jamison, Coach recalled an incident that exemplified this mental approach:
 In the final seconds of the 1928 Indiana state high school championship, with Martinsville leading by one point, Muncie Central's Charlie Secrist flung a desperation underhand shot from half-court that literally went up to the rafters and came down straight through the hoop. It was impossible. Here's how impossible it was: in my forty years of coaching basketball at Dayton High School, South Bend Central, Indiana State Teachers College, and UCLA, I never saw anyone make that shot again in competition. But I did see it once—Saturday night, March 17, 1928, in the final seconds of the Indiana state high school championship. Martinsville lost 13–12. Muncie Central fans were nearly hysterical at the buzzer.
In our locker room afterward, the Artesians, stunned and almost grieving, sat on the benches holding towels over their faces as they wept. Charlie Secrist's last-second shot had been crushing, and all of the players just quietly lowered their heads and cried. All but one. I couldn't cry. The loss hurt me deeply inside, but I also knew I'd done the best I could do. Disappointed? Yes. Devastated or depressed? No. Dad taught us on the farm, "Don't worry about being better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can be." I had done that. Now, as a member of the Martinsville Artesians basketball team, Dad's instructions and example were put to the test. You lose, you feel bad—sometimes very, very bad. But a much worse feeling is knowing that you haven't done everything you possibly could have done to prepare and compete. I had done what my father taught me to do, including his two sets of threes, one of which was don't whine, don't complain and don't make excuses. That loss in the 1928 Indiana state high school championships, when the Artesians were defending champions and I was their captain, is still painful to recall. But I couldn't cry. Dad didn't cry when he lost the farm. How could I now?
As a teacher Coach would sometimes help his students look at a potentially negative situation with a different perspective and thus improve the outcome.
In the book How to Be like Coach Wooden by Pat Williams, Bob Thau, an attorney who played for the UCLA Freshman Team in the 1950’s, described an example:
In the seventies, two of my sons went to a John Wooden summer camp. Our youngest, Jordan, was seven at the time, and after the second day he called and asked if he could come home. He was whimpering and crying, and when I asked him what was wrong, he said, “It’s not good here. I'm not a good player, and the other boys aren't being nice to me.” I urged him to give it one more day. The next evening, Jordan called and said, “I met Coach Wooden today, and he wants to meet my parents.” I asked why, and Jordan replied, “Coach told me that if you're homesick that means you have a very good home.” Coach also told Jordan that he was "the bravest boy in camp" because he was sticking it out, even though he was homesick. "I'm very proud of you," Coach told him. Jordan came home thrilled because Coach Wooden was so interested in him. It still amazes me that with almost seven hundred kids at camp, Coach would spend time with Jordan and show so much interest. It proves what a remarkable teacher and coach he is. He took the negative of Jordan's struggle and turned it into a positive.
People are usually as happy as they make their mind up to be and sometimes a great teacher can show a student how to do it.

Yours in coaching,


Craig Impelman

Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.
Charles Swindoll


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