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UCLA Coach John Wooden with some of the artifacts that came from his success, which he attributes to his Pyramid of Success.

“'When the going gets tough, the tough get going.' Be at your best when your best is needed. (competitive greatness is a) Real love of a hard battle." ~John Wooden

Get your game on.
Put your game face on.
Keep your head in the game.
And of course what cheerleader doesn't know "Bring it on?"
All of these cliches mean the same thing; keep your edge.

It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

All of these mottos mean that the athlete relishes the opportunity to bring all their skill, talent, experience and character to bare on whatever problem or challenge they face.

Coach Wooden says "a hard struggle is to be welcomed, never feared. In fact, when you define success this way, the only thing to fear is your unwillingness to make the full 100% effort to prepare and perform at the highest level of your ability."

Over 17 years of bus rides, I've over heard a lot of conversations between basketball coaches. They talk a lot about who's giving 100%, 90%, 60%, and 110% both in practices and in games.

Competitive greatness isn't about winning competitions (especially in cheer, where yeah, there are such a thing as cheerleading competitions, but the whole purpose is really to help the football or basketball players reach their competitive greatness). Competitive greatness isn't about defeating an opponent or a rival. You can be competitive in an insecure, jealous, selfish, ambitious way like that, but true competitive greatness isn't about vanquishing enemies- it's about overcoming obstacles, solving problems, meeting challenges, and accomplishing personal goals.

The love of a hard battle isn't about destroying enemies or getting attention or power- it's about sojourning on even when you're faced with the most difficult trails. It's about not being lazy, apathetic, or lethargic but industrious, intentional, confident, determined and to bring us full-circle- it means being enthusiastic.

The point, that sharp top (competitive EDGE), the summit of the pyramid isn't possible without the force of the bricks below it, perhaps most importantly the corner stones of industriousness and enthusiasm- but not as high, not as powerful, and not nearly as meaningful or as successful without friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and team-spirit.

You can jump over a hurdle, avoid it by going around, or plow right through it. Sometimes competitive greatness means having to get a little dirty, it means having to work up a sweat. It means not giving up, even if you do lose. It means moving on and trying again after you have failed.

Winston Churchill once said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

That's why I always want you to keep trying to rev up the crowd no matter how unresponsive they are for your time out and quarter break cheers. And that's a lesson that will take you far in life. Another old saying says that if you aim for the moon, even if you miss, you'll end up in the stars.

Take a look and read through the 15 bricks. Do you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you give it your best? That's what it means to be a true success.