As you know if you’ve been following along, John Wooden is one of my all-time favorite Heroes.
In fact, his Heroic portrait is staring at me from my office wall as I type this—challenging me to do my best and make TODAY a masterpiece. (“I’m on it, Coach!” 🤓)
You might also know that ESPN says he was the greatest coach of the 20th century and that The Sporting News named Wooden the “Greatest Coach of All Time.”
His UCLA Bruins won 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years and once had an 88-game winning streak. He’s also the ONLY person to ever be inducted into the NCAA Hall of Fame as BOTH a player AND as a Coach.
If you’ve really been paying attention, you might recall that, way back in the day (in our Notes on Pete Carroll’s Win Forever), we chatted about the fact that Wooden coached for A LONG TIME before he won his first NCAA Championship.
More specifically, we talked about the fact that he coached at the collegiate level for SEVENTEEN (!!) years before he won his first championship.
I just learned that before he coached at the collegiate level, Wooden spent ELEVEN years coaching high school basketball. Then, during World War II in 1942 (at 32 years old), he joined the United States Navy. He served until 1946 and left as a lieutenant.
It was only after all that that he coached college basketball for another SEVENTEEN years before he won his first NCAA Championship in 1964.
He was 54 years old.
By that point, he had been coaching for nearly THREE DECADES.
I always find it helpful to remember that our heroes weren’t always the heroes we remember them as today.
Here’s what’s even more important for our purposes: Wooden didn’t focus on winning or losing.
OF COURSE he wanted to win, but he knew that the only way to have the best shot at the big outcome goals WHILE winning the ultimate game of life (RIGHT NOW!) was to focus ALL of his and his players’ energy on what was 100% within their control: their effort and their attitude.
That’s Today’s +1.
Remember: Our Heroes gave their ENTIRE lives to their pursuit of mastery.
The greatest among them always kept their focus on winning the ULTIMATE game of life: Showing up and doing their best.
But all day, every day.
Let’s make our heroes and ourselves proud as we move from Theory to Practice to Mastery Together…