Looking for Success

by Jason Stewart

john wooden wisdom | four el magazine

The legendary basketball Coach John Wooden defined success this way: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.“

Media in a capitalist society would have you believe that success is being the person in charge of others, driving luxury cars, dressing in expensive clothes and having your lifestyle be the object of others envious desires.

However, ask a cancer survivor what success is. Ask a single parent who’s child just graduated from college. Ask a common class citizen from a third world country what luxury is to them. Everyone has a different perspective.

It’s during our youth and young adult years that we are developing the most. Our world-view is composed of our experiences and what we believe to be true. We will carry the majority of these beliefs throughout our lifetime developing confidence and insecurities.

In youth and amateur basketball, I often see players who get down on themselves if they didn’t shoot well in a game. They feel unsuccessful if they are not in the starting line up on the top team. Players are distracted from the bigger picture when they hear the applause in the stands after a made basket. They haven’t learned to take pride in the screen that was set for the shooter or the rebound that allowed the shooter an opportunity.

As an audience we don’t publicly (sometimes privately) cheer those efforts. Unfortunately, many scorers in youth sports don’t publically praise their teammates: the passer, the screener or the rebounder. Does the scorer want “all” the glory? In team sports, no one person can take credit for a win or a loss.

What does this look like as adults in a business organization?

As competitors we wrestle with the tension behind the question of “Am I capable of doing better than what I am doing currently?” We should always wrestle with this tension. However, we should wrestle with it within the role that we have been appointed to at that time. If lust for glory continues to grow, it will only perpetuate the selfish ambition that seeks to hide the work of teammates, ultimately slowing and hindering the desired achievement of the organization.

When we share this glory (believe me there is enough to go around), more people will report satisfaction in their daily routine, causing more pride in the work that they do.

So, let’s raise a toast to the person that drives the Honda and lives in the small apartment with hope that their contribution is good enough. Lets acknowledge the school bus driver, the mortgage loan processor and the nurse who take joy in assisting others. When we put our attention on the people who do the work in the shadows, we will be able to see more success in the lives of others.

Wooden’s quote has lifelong implications when viewed outside the context of a single event like a basketball game. If we cheer for the people involved in the beginning and middle of the process, they will believe that they are important and are achieving success.

Perhaps if we modify our definition of success, then we can all have the peace of mind that success brings regardless of our position on the organizational chart.

Coach Jason Stewart can be reached at: Coach@ProUniversity.Net