Defining Success

It usually takes a lot of thinking to get to this point. The point where I'm sitting  at my desk listening to some song that has no words by a dude born in the 1700s, looking at a blank post, eagerly awaiting those first few words. It takes even more actually to type though. Sometimes themes are more obvious than others. Sometimes it's just one instance that triggers a thought; sometimes it's a series of different instances with the same idea behind it. And that's what it has been like this time.

A few weeks ago, I finished reading Wooden on Leadership (a must-read for everyone). John Wooden, UCLA's legendary basketball coach and winner of 10 NCAA National Championships, though extremely simple, was a genius.  As a coach, he was very disciplined and focused on the things he and his team could control. He wasn't concerned with what the other teams were doing, but instead if his team did everything to the best of their ability, it wouldn't matter what anyone else was doing.

So this made me analyze every aspect of everything in life. Again. As always. I'm a nut job. And I like it.

Why are we always so concerned with what everyone else is doing? No, but really. Why?

Personally, I think it's easier to focus on other people. That's why we do it. It's harder to look within and take responsibility for the outcome of something. It's easier to say "they were just really good today" rather than "I sucked today".

After Bayern Munich crushed Barcelona last night, I accepted the fact that Bayern was the better team, that they "had Barcelona figured out". They lessened their strengths and took advantage of their weaknesses and that's how you beat teams.

It was a natural reaction for me. "Stop their good and you'll be okay" - that's hard to do

I then watched an interview with Bayern's Head Coach Jupp Heynckes where he said something along the lines of not worrying about what Barcelona was doing, that his team did everything they were supposed to do and bought into his way of coaching. And that was the difference in the game.

"Create your own good and you'll be even better" - that's more like it.

He never mentioned shutting down Messi in the first game, mistakes made by Victor Valdes or missed chances from Xavi. He didn't talk about Barcelona. He talked about his team. That's where his focus was and has been all year.

It made me think about scouting reports and worrying about star players and what the other team was doing. If Heynckes wasn't worried about Messi, the best player in the world, what does any coach in the world have to worry about? And why do we worry so much about something we can't even control instead of focusing on what is in our control?

Heynckes is the man right now as far as I'm concerned. He and his team killed it. They were like machines out there. And to be honest, they were more fun to watch than Barcelona the past two weeks.

Back to Wooden

I really appreciate the lessons from Coach Wooden. I never realized how awesome he was. He never talked about winning or scores or stats. He focused on the details. His idea of success was that every player did their best to reach their potential, nothing else.

As a player, I'm sure Coach Wooden would agree on a lot of things we worry about as being trivial. The weather, the pitch, the shape of our pony tail in our prematch photo(whoops), the other team, the coaches, the final score, the referee-  you name it, we can't control it.

I've changed my way of thinking a lot lately. I have seen the results of focusing on the little things and letting greatness unfold. Because you can't force greatness. It doesn't happen overnight and it definitely doesn't happen by worrying about things we can't control.

Ready, Set, Action!

This weekend we play one of the best teams in Europe. I won't even name them because it doesn't matter who they are, except a quality opponent that we should respect.


I'm not going to worry about who they are, what they're good at or what they've done in the past.

I'm going to take players on 1v1, take shots, track back like a gazelle on fire, win 50/50 balls and attempt to meg, meg, meg.

I'm going to focus on playing the best game I'm capable of, being a good teammate and letting the greatness unfold itself like a beautiful little origami of a game.

Because if you can walk away knowing you succeeded within Wooden's definition of success, allowing your inner boss to shine and your greatness to unfold naturally, what more can you ask of yourself? Win or lose, you're a freaking star! And if anyone argues it, tell em I sent ya... mmkay?