John Wooden holds the greatest championship record in all of sports.
He won 10 NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach at UCLA (including 7 championships in a row)!
What’s interesting about Coach Wooden is he never focused on winning. Instead he focused on the process. He wanted players to be the best they could be, not necessarily “the best.”
This whole idea of focusing on your “personal best” seemed weird to me when I first heard it.
Back when I worked in corporate America, one of my co-workers once told the office he was so happy about a race he ran because his time was a new “personal best” for him.
I thought to myself, “Who cares about that, what place did you come in? Did you win the race?”
I didn’t value your “personal best” back then, unless it resulted in winning.
Growing up playing sports I loved winning. When I was young and some of the parents would say things like, “It’s not about winning, it’s just about having fun.”
I assumed people who didn’t think winning was the most important goal were just not very competitive. And that it was just something you told yourself if you lost so you wouldn’t feel bad.
I’d love to tell you that this all changed once I grew up. But here I am at 32 and I’m just now discovering that it actually isn’t all about winning or being “the best.”
It’s hard to admit this. Part of me still wonders if it’s really true. Is the process really more important than winning?
I suspect it is. And so I plan to test it out myself.
For this next year (2017) I’m going to focus on the process instead of winning. Instead of making lofty goals like I normally do I’m going to find ways to improve my process.
“The way you are in the game is how you win, not the final score.”
– David Allen, Making It All Work
This is scary for me because I’ve been a big goal setter for years. I’ve studied everyone from Brian Tracy to Zig Ziglar’s goal setting methods and have developed complex systems to create and measure my goals.
But if I’m honest I haven’t seen a lot of fruit from this. It’s not that I don’t work hard at them or I’m lazy (at least I hope I’m not!).
I think the bigger obstacle is my “mindset.” Goals make me rigid and stressed out. I feel like they once gave life to me but now it feels dead and mechanical.
And so when I thought about setting goals for this year I felt a “heaviness” accompany this thought. I couldn’t put my finger on it but as I prayed and meditated I remembered the story of John Wooden and how he focused on the process instead of goals.
This led me to research the benefits of taking a “process-centered” approach. And I’m persuaded to take this approach this year.
I don’t know exactly where this path will lead. But I’m excited and feel like there’s life in it. So I’m taking the next step. Of course, I’ll do my best to share updates with you here as I discover things along the way.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Coach Wooden:
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
– John Wooden
So time to focus on the process and making the effort instead of the outcome!