How often do we look back at someone who has achieved at a high level and we dismiss all the hard work, the suffering, the failure (THE PROCESS) that it took to get to that level of achievement?
I think I really started reading and studying about John Wooden when I was in college. Sure I had heard the name and I knew about all the NCAA championships he was a part of as the men’s basketball coach at the University of California at Los Angeles. But the more I learned about him, the more his ideas and philosophies really hit home with me. Not because I thought they would help me win a championship as a coach, but because I knew that he was teaching a way of life that can help me be successful no matter what I accomplish.
For me, Wooden is an example of how someone you have never met or known personally can be a mentor to you through their words, their values, and their principles they lived by.
I love John Wooden’s definition of success because it gives everyone a chance to experience it:
“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of knowing that you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”
Throughout his life, Wooden created what he called the Pyramid of Success, which describes 15 attributes that are the building blocks to help you attain success, as well as 10 other characteristics that provide the mortar to hold the pyramid together.
My favorite attribute on the pyramid is Intentness. Here is what Wooden had to say about Intentness:
The fourth block in the second tier of the Pyramid of Success is Intentness. It is as important as any single block in the entire Pyramid.
Wooden’s record in the NCAA tournament prior to winning the first championship was 3-9. They played in a terrible facility that they shared with the gymnastics team and Wooden often swept the floor before practice. Then for a time they didn’t even have their own gym and had to travel around and play at area high schools and junior colleges.
Fifteen years?!?! How many of us have enough intentness to stick with it that long when we are not getting the end result we want? How many administrations would let a coach keep coaching that long without getting the end result they want?
John Wooden had Intentness. You and I can have Intentness. But remember that the opposite of Intentness is wanting too much too soon. Intentness does not involve wanting something. Yes, you can have a vision for where you want to go but you must remain committed to the process. Inky Johnson asks, “Can you be committed to the process without being emotionally attached to the results?”
Do you know what kills Intentness? Expectations. Our own expectations of how we think it is “supposed” to happen. Or other people’s expectations of what they think is “supposed” to happen.
Have a dream, have a vision, have a desire and be so intent on getting there that you rise above those expectations so they can’t hold you back.
I wrote this article last week not knowing that last night the New England Patriots would come from 25 points behind in the 2nd half to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. The comeback was a great example of short-term intentness and never giving up. But when you look at Tom Brady, who was drafted in the 6th round, and Bill Belichik, who won 45% of his games in his first five years as a head coach with the Cleveland Browns, you understand that sometimes it takes years of intentness, just like it did for John Wooden.
On the flip side, does this mean that the coaches and players of the Atlanta Falcons did not have Intentness? No, it simply means that they are at a different point on their journey of Intentness and that loss could be the setback that propels them to greater heights in the future!
Inspiring leaders to Rise Above and Enjoy the Journey!
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