Thank you for your thoughtful questions:
“How do you stay at the top?”
“Which is the hardest: Making it to the top — or, Staying there?”
“What is the secret to avoid muddled down?”
The answer to these questions arrives in the form of these Universal Principles and Proverbial Riddles:
Easy is Hard — Hard is Easy
First will be Last — the Last, First
Top is the Bottom — the Bottom is the beginning of a Top
And, that, my friend, is the secret:
Good, better, best.
Never let it rest,
‘Til our good is better,
And our better, best.
As a reminder, Coach John Wooden believed: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”
Each one of us, individually, is capable of much more than we, originally, think we can do.
All we do begins with a thought.
At one time, I believed in the axiom: Preparation + Opportunity = Success
That’s wrong — we don’t need to wait around for opportunity.
All we need to do is Prepare;
And, Opportunities are everywhere.
In other words, as Coach Wooden exemplified and his Players affirmed: Build It — and, They Will Come.
The fun is in the doing. And, yes, you’re right and Coach teaches — it’s easier to make it to the Top the first time, than it is to remain there. Because, once we think we have arrived, someone is digging a hole and planting us, six feet deep.
Life is like riding a bicycle — Pedal, or Coast, the choice is ours. When we coast, we’re headed downhill. It’s so easy — at the Top — to become lazy and complacent. Definition of Rut: a grave with the ends kicked out.
Staying on top of our game requires taking our game to new heights of performance. Coach says, “Be quick, don’t hurry.” He believed in the Fundamentals. In other words, break it down (Pyramid of Success) and build it back: better, faster, stronger, bigger, and more beautiful. Use lots of mortar: Faith and Patience.
John Wooden was a Teacher before and after he was a Coach. His encouragement for us, “Call yourself a Teacher.” In his words, “What a leader learns, after you’ve learned it all, counts most of all.” By taking the science of anything to an art form, we discover joy. By teaching it, we learn even more.
It’s not the arena in which we perform — or, even the performance itself. It’s all about the People.
Reputation is what others think about us. Character is who we, really, are. Building character is within our control. Managing the expectations of others is not.
If we focus on: People, over Process — the Why, before What — and, the Reason for the Results — we attract those of like mind. We are known by the Company we keep.
Character can be defined as:
Respect for Self
Respect for Others
Respect for Rules
From the passion at the core of who we are, we can offer our best in service to all.
Look around and you will see your Team, comprised of: Customers, Vendors, Friends, Peers, Family, and Community. We look to you for the Value of your life Story. There’s only one of you. We want and need what you have to offer. Not everyone will be accepting. That’s OK — many will be appreciative, of YOU.
I encourage you to say, “Yes, please,” to those who choose to be on your Team — and, “No, thanks,” to those finding fault with Your Way. In fact, as Coach Wooden did, help them find another Team.
After we think there is no room for improvement in the fundamentals (Building Blocks and Mortar comprising the Pyramid of Success), we can always improve in how we manage our precious Time. Coach was a crusader for Time Management. As a leader, he accomplished more in two hours than other coaches did in two days.
We learn by doing.
The fun is in the doing.
Let’s have fun learning.
There is no Easy way — only, Hard challenges, which inspires us to new discovery of opportunity and levels of achievement.
First is, simply, a place of Ego. Last is just another word for Endure, which does produce legacies through service to others.
Reaching the Top is, simply, a fleeting moment of recognizing it as the Bottom of a foundation, from which to build, again.
Let’s keep building.