#1368 Effort and Attitude

Focus on the Two Things You Can Control

In our last +1, we talked about the fact that John Wooden coached for nearly THREE DECADES (!) before winning his first NCAA Championship.

Note: If it took THE greatest (!) coach of ALL TIME (!) nearly three decades to really hit his stride (at age 54!), then we can give ourselves a little more breathing room with our Heroic quests, eh?

(Answer: YES!)


I learned about those eleven years Wooden spent coaching high school basketball before he put the seventeen years into coaching college basketball before winning his first championship in a great little book called Think Like a Warrior by Darrin Donnelly.

I don’t remember exactly how I found that book on Amazon. It must have been recommended as I was buying another book on mental toughness.

I do, however, remember being impressed enough by the fact that it had nearly 3,000 (!) reviews with nearly a 5-star average that I decided to give it a shot. And, I’m glad I did. It’s FANTASTIC.

To put it in perspective, I read this little inspiring fable on a Sunday. I loved it so much I immediately bought the FIVE other books in Darrin’s “Sports for the Soul” series. Then I read ALL FIVE of *those* books by the end of the week.

They’re all truly incredible. We’ll be featuring the entire series.

As I say in the Notes: I love reading sports books for a number of reasons.

First, as Darrin points out, the field of sports psychology is often referred to as “the science of success” because sports provide a REALLY powerful, simple frame to see if a given approach works or not. As Darrin says: The scoreboard doesn’t lie.

And, even more importantly for our purposes, sports books are entertaining—which makes them a GREAT way to give people who might not be into personal development an easy way in.

With that in mind: If you have a loved one who’s into sports but *not* that into personal development, I think this might be a GREAT book for them.


This book is a fable about a college football coach going through hard times who is lucky enough to spend time with five of the most legendary sports coaches in history: John Wooden, Buck O’Neil, Herb Brooks, Paul “Bear” Bryant, and Vince Lombardi.

Those coaches each share ONE Big Idea to help him navigate his challenges and fulfill his potential.

Here’s what Darrin has John Wooden tell us in his little fable: “I sincerely believe that the difference was that I didn’t talk about winning and losing. I didn’t talk about beating opponents. I kept our focus on only what we could control: our effort and our attitude in the present moment.”

Wooden continues by saying: “This was the difference-maker. I taught my players that being successful had nothing to do with the final score. Success could only be measured by whether you put in the maximum effort. You could lose on the scoreboard and still be successful if you gave your absolute best effort. You could also win on the scoreboard and be unsuccessful if you didn’t give your best. Regardless of what the final score says, only you can know if you’re successful because only you can know if you truly did your best.”

The key to success?

Focus only on the things you have control over: Your effort and your attitude.


Darrin has our main character capture the wisdom from each coach in his words.

Here’s how he puts it: “I FOCUS ON ONLY THE THINGS I HAVE TOTAL CONTROL OVER: MY EFFORT AND MY ATTITUDE. By focusing on only what I can control, my effort and my attitude in the present moment, I will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing the results will take care of themselves. I will not lose myself in the past or worry about the future. I will focus on the present. If I truly give my maximum effort to be the best I can be today, I will be successful. NOTHING can take that from me.”

That’s Today’s +1.

True success is simple.

Give your maximum effort to being the very best you can be Today.

Do that over and over and over again and the results will take care of themselves.

But you won’t have to wait for the “big” external results.

You’ll KNOW you are a success TODAY.



When we close the gap between who we’re capable of being and who we’re actually being, there’s simply no room for the regret, anxiety, and disillusionment that tends to bubble up when we’re doing less than our best.


Again: Here’s to maximum effort to be the best we can be TODAY.

Day 1. All in.


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