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Issue 184 - It's Not What You Think You Are, But What You Think

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 4 Issue 184
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



In his book Wooden on Leadership, with Steve Jamison, Coach Wooden described how a change in his thinking had a profound effect on his future:
At the beginning of the 1961-62 season, I’d been coaching basketball at UCLA for 13 years in conditions I would describe as harsh.
Our practice facility, the Men’s Gym, was cramped and poorly ventilated. It was often jammed with student-athletes participating in other sporting activities during our basketball practices.
I was confronted with this situation immediately upon my arrival at UCLA, and soon concluded it was virtually impossible to achieve my teaching goals under such conditions.
It also had an impact on my assessment of the possibility of winning a national championship; specifically, in the back of my mind I just felt there was no chance that UCLA would ever be able to go all the way.
Much to the complete surprise of everyone, our unheralded 1961–1962 UCLA basketball team advanced all the way to the Final Four before we lost 72–70 to Cincinnati in the final seconds of the game.
Our near-victory was a revelation to me. Much to my surprise, UCLA had nearly won the 1962 NCAA basketball championship. Suddenly—shockingly—it became clear that our inadequate basketball facility, the Men’s Gym, did not mean we couldn’t win the national title.
If I had been using the Men’s Gym as a rationale for poor performance in past NCAA playoff appearances—I couldn’t use it any more. A subconscious barrier had been removed; a light went on.
In 1964 and 1965, with the Men’s Gym as its practice facility, UCLA won it’s first two national championships.
This excerpt from one of Coach Wooden’s favorite poems Thinking, by Walter Wintle, sums the idea up:
If you think you'll lose, you've lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a person’s will
It's all in the state of mind.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry




I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Sergeant Joyce Kilmer 






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