Friday, July 23, 2010

Born Anew

Last week I finished Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations On and Off the Court and now I feel like a new man. It wasn't just some coach recounting on his greatest triumphs, although there was plenty of that which is to be expected because it is the source of Wooden's authority. This book stimulated, challenged, and motivated me to change my status quo. Regarding this book, I've written one email to my mom and two to my dad. I fully plan to buy one for every member of my family at Christmas to share its tenets.

Wooden's book was earth-shakingly good. I've started to incorporate his philosophy into my everyday life, things such as:

"True success can be attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing that you did everything within the limits of your ability to become the very best that you are capable of becoming. Therefore, in the final analysis only the individual himself can correctly determine his success. You may be able to fool others, but you can never truly deceive yourself, except, perhaps, for a short time."

“Motivation must come from the belief that ultimate success lies in giving your personal best.”

“Don’t try to be better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can be.”

I've decided that I am going to incorporate this concept of success into everything I do from now on. Up until this point I believe I have just cruised on the intellect that I was lucky enough to win in the biological lottery and the bare minimum work allowable to advance at what I deemed to be an acceptable level. Tragically, yesterday I realized the worst phrase I've ever learned was - "I didn't study." When offered to my peers, it suggested that I could have done better while sheltering me from realizing the limit to my potential. My fear of failure was great. But after reading Wooden I realize that I was really failing all along. By not maximizing myself I wasn't attaining life-satisfying success. No more.

I am studying for the GMAT in order to get into a PhD program in finance. Previously I would have done as I always did, i.e. not study, and coasted to an average to slightly above average result. Screw that. On the day I registered (two days ago) I bought the Official Guide that came with an 800-question bank and the Princeton Review book. I received the books 11 hours after I ordered them - wow Amazon, kudos, seriously - and I began studying last night. I read six chapters out of the Princeton Review and did the first 40 math questions out of the official guide (38 right - but they start easy and progress in difficulty).

When I was finished studying, I pushed the book away and smiled. For the first time in my life I realized I am putting myself out there, exposing myself to the possibility of failure. The end result could fall short of my goal when you account for the increased level of effort. But Coach Wooden prepared me for that possibility already with this perfect gem of a quote - “You never fail if you know in your heart that you did the best of which you are capable.” I know I'm going to live a much fuller life going forward and it's all because of Coach Wooden and his inspirational words of wisdom.