When John Wooden (Ex UCLA basketball coach) began his coaching career, he also taught high school English. In time he learned, his students had various degrees of language talent. Yet all parents expected their children to get an “A” in English. Consequently, some of his less-talented kids were frustrated as they were not meeting the expectations of their moms and dads.
When Coach was growing up, his father told him, “Never try to be better than someone else, but never cease trying to be the best you can be.” Also and along the same lines, he had read George Moriarty’s words from his poem, “The Road Ahead and the Road Behind,”
“For who can ask more of a man,
Than giving all within his span.
Giving all, it seems to me,
Is not so far from victory.”
As a result, Coach believed his students should not measure success by the grades they earn but by the effort they had put in. In other words, if you have done everything possible, you should consider yourself successful, no matter what the numerical results show. So he coined his definition for success,
Success is the peace of mind which is a direct result of the self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.
He began to tell his students just that. But he soon realized, although he had told them what success is, he had not shown them how to get there. He needed some steps and he decided on making a pyramid with blocks. See link:
The Bottom Tier:
Cornerstones—Industriousness and Enthusiasm: If you don’t have hard work and a love for what you do, you’ll never be the best you can be. You’ll break down somewhere along the way.
Middle Three: Friendship, Loyalty, and Cooperation mean you need to work with other people because you need them to get to the top. Help them and they’ll help you. These are foundational to success.
Here is where you work on acquiring knowledge. Self-Control (push yourself), Alertness, Initiative, and Intentness (stay with it and find a way when there’s a roadblock)
This is the heart of the Pyramid. Get yourself in shape—physically, mentally and morally—to go the distance. Skill (quickly and properly execute the basics), Team Spirit (eager to sacrifice self-glory for the team).
Poise (just being yourself) and Confidence are byproducts of all the work you’ve done so far.
Competitive Greatness: Being at your best when the pressure is on, is also a byproduct.
When Coach Wooden’s students began to believe in the definition and started working through the Pyramid, they replaced the need for extrinsic motivation (praise and grades) for intrinsic (I did my best. That’s all I can ask of myself.) And according to Coach Wooden, the less-talented students actually began to improve their grades. Interesting.