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HomemilastwordThe Last Word: Definition of Success

The Last Word: Definition of Success

What is success? Is it achieving your masters? A record profit for your business? Building a loyal client base? Opening a second practice?

Success, we all know, isn’t just about status or material wealth. Raising happy, well-adjusted kids, for example, is commonly quoted as one of life’s great success measures. But have you thought about what it is that is your own personal measure of success?

The legendary John “Coach” Wooden (1910-2010), the first man to be enshrined in the U.S. Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, was a great thinker with a love of poetry, who was renowned for his succinct, simple words of motivation to his players. In a profession where you’re held to account by a scoreboard, Wooden coined his own definition of success… and it had nothing to do with winning games.

In his words: “You can lose when you outscore somebody in a game. You can win when you’re outscored”. For Wooden, it was all about the journey (the coaching), not the end (the game) because “sometimes when you get there it’s almost a let-down. It’s the getting there that’s the fun”.

Success is the peace of mind attained only through self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable…

“Success”, he said, “is the peace of mind attained only through self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable.”

Wooden devised a pyramid to illustrate his definition of success. The cornerstones were “industriousness and enthusiasm, working hard, enjoying what you’re doing”; the apex being “faith and patience”.

“We must truly believe,” Wooden said, “that things will work out as they should, providing we do what we should.

“I think our tendency is to hope that things will turn out the way we want them to, but we don’t do the things that are necessary to make those things become a reality.”

He also had a series of “three” principles for life handed down to him from his father, which helped him both on and off the court. They included: “Never be late; not one word of profanity and never criticise a teammate (i.e. colleagues, workmates… people in general). Another was: “Don’t whine; don’t complain; don’t give excuses,” and: “Never try to be better than anyone else; always learn from others; never cease trying to be the best that you can be.”

Each of us, he said, should aspire to, “competitive greatness”. His definition of which gives pause for thought: “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

Each day! Now, there’s a thought.