Coach John Wooden, was one of American’s most respected and revered basketball players and coaches. Nicknamed the "Wizard of Westwood," he led the UCLA men’s basketball team to ten national championships in a 12-year period.
Within this period, his teams won a men’s record 88 consecutive games.
When I stop and admire the accomplishments of people before me, from famous athletes, to CEO’s, to coaches, to philanthropists, to poets and / or artists, I’m reminded that success leaves clues.
Coach Wooden’s unprecedented success is something I deeply admire! His TED Talk, “The Difference between Winning and Succeeding,” has been viewed over 3.8 million times. In it, Mr. Wooden shares stories about his childhood, his life as a coach, and the beliefs that shaped his success!
Wooden’s definition of success truly resonates with me. He states that, “success is a 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.”
Early in my childhood, my parents would encourage me to “do my best” at everything I embarked on. At the time, I thought it was a nice gentle way of getting me to do the things they believed were important to me, such as securing A grades or keeping my first job.
The actual advice is what helped me get to where I am and what continues to drive me. The truth is, you can’t bullshit yourself … maybe you believe you can BS others but no one can BS themselves.
Try this, the next time you have a presentation or pitch with a prospective client, ask yourself this simple question:
Nine times out of ten, you could do better. This isn’t meant to put you down or to have you always questioning yourself; instead it’s meant to help cut through the BS we feed ourselves and aim to win!
I use this exact question every time I embark on a new project, task, talk or blog. It helps to ensure I provide the world with the best that I can do. The absolute best. Not kind-of-the-best, not sort-of-the-best, but only the very-damn-best I know I’m capable of doing.
Early in my career, someone told me a story about doing my best, which continues to inspire me. There was once a professor and a student. The professor asked the student to submit a report on philosophy by a certain date. The student went home, put his head down, did his research and submitted his work on time to his professor. The professor looked at the student’s paper, wrote a small note and returned it to the student without saying a word. The note said, “Is this the best you can do?” The student, upset with the comment, went home and did additional research, this time putting more effort and attention into his work. The student then handed his paper in again awaiting grading. The professor reviewed the student’s work and again without saying anything wrote another note on the students work, “Is this the best you can do?”
The student received his paper and went home enraged, furious and determined to show his teacher wrong. This time, when the student went home, he was determined to do it differently. He researched more than ever, rewrote entire sections, had it reviewed by ten people and reviewed it once more for perfection. The student walked into the classroom and submitted the paper to his professor as he did in the past. The professor looked at his work and again wrote the same note, “Is this the best you can do?” The student looked up and said in defiance, “Yes, this is the best I can do!” The professor looked at him, smiled and said, “Okay. Now I’ll begin to grade your paper!”
The next time you’re embarking on something big or small, ask yourself, “Is this the best I can do?” If it truly is without BS’ing yourself – congratulations! You’re on your way to winning!