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Issue 165 - God Grant Me the Courage to Change the Things I Can Change, the Serenity to Accept the Things I Cannot Change, and the Wisdom to Know the Difference

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 4 Issue 165
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



This favorite quote of Coach Wooden’s is popularly referred to as the Serenity Prayer.
The Serenity Prayer is the common name for a prayer authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971). It has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs. The best-known form is:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Coach Wooden had an eight page document entitled:
The following quotations have been compiled by and are used by John Wooden, UCLA Head Basketball Coach.
Miscellaneous Quotes to Think About
In this document Coach referenced the Serenity Prayer as follows:
Rabbi Niebuhr, "God grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Coach rearranged the quote putting grant me the courage to change the things first and the serenity to accept the things I cannot change second as opposed to the original quote which puts serenity to accept first and courage to change the things second.
Coach was a man of self control and serenity but also a man of action first; never willing to just accept the status quo.
When Coach refused an invitation to the 1948 NAIA National Championship tournament because Clarence Walker, an African-American player, would have been prohibited from participating solely because of his race, he was acting with courage first and accepting the outcome with serenity second.
When I teach Coach Wooden’s philosophy to schools and businesses and I bring up Coach Wooden’s key idea of Don’t worry about things you can’t control, I am sometimes interrupted by a participant who will say Oh yeah, Coach Imp, I know we can only control what we can control.
I quickly remind the group we can’t stop there; Coach Wooden’s actual quote (from his father) is: The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control.
The emphasis is on taking effective action, not being passive. Self Control is the first block on the second tier of the Pyramid of Success, but it is followed by Alertness (Eager to learn and improve), Initiative (take action when action is needed, never afraid to fail) and Intentness (be determined and persistent).
Coach had serenity as his goal: Success is peace of mind but he said it could only be obtained though action: attained through self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable.
Act with courage and have serenity in knowing you did your best.
There is no passiveness in Coach Wooden’s philosophy!
Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry


My Mind To Me A Kingdom Is


My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such perfect joy therein I find
That it excels all other bliss
Which God or nature hath assign'd.
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.

No princely port, nor wealthy store,
No force to win a victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to win a loving eye;
To none of these I yield as thrall,--
For why? my mind despise them all.

I see that plenty surfeit oft,
And hasty climbers soonest fall;
I see that such as are aloft
Mishap doth threaten most of all.
These get with toil and keep with fear;
Such cares my mind can never bear.

I press to bear no haughty sway,
I wish no more than may suffice,
I do no more than well I may,
Look, what I want my mind supplies.
Lo! thus I triumph like a king,
My mind content with anything.

I laugh not at another's loss,
Nor grudge not at another's gain;
No worldly waves my mind can toss;
I brook that is another's bane.
I fear no foe, nor fawn on friend,
I loathe not life, nor dread mine end.

My wealth is health and perfect ease,
And conscience clear my chief defence;
I never seek by bribes to please,
Nor by desert to give offence.
Thus do I live, thus will I die,--
Would all did so as well as I!

Sir Edward Dyer 






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