John Wooden, Winning Versus Success – Lunch w/ TED

Lunch with TED — By on June 10, 2010 at 12:00 am

This week renowned basketball coach John Wooden passed away.   Coach Wooden’s talk on winning versus success was one of the first TED talks I posted on this site; it is one of my favorite talks.

“Thou dist thy best, that is success… If you make the effort to do the best of which you are capable, that is success.”

Jake Halpern calls many of us, me and my peers, “fame junkies.”  When polled, we’re the generation that would rather be the assistant to a movie star than be the CEO of a company or the President of Harvard College.  Our definition of success is spelled across the covers of People, OK, and various celebrity magazines.  We want the spotlight and our lives are uninteresting unless we bask in it.  Sure, almost all of us will never attain to it and we’ll settle for our lot in life, but deep inside there will be a nagging suspicion that we failed to be as successful as our youthful hearts foretold.

If John Wooden is to be believed, if we gave it our best and worked our hardest, we attained the exact level of success to which we were destined – or perhaps for which we were designed.  I’d contend that we would then be more successful than our hearts foretold because the success which we will have attained at the end of our life will be real whereas the success after which our fame-addicted hearts yearned never was real.

It’s a liberating message that frees us from slavery to the tyranny of misguided, misconceived ambition.

Wooden’s message is deeply Christian, full of wisdom and insight attained by one who has lived a long life shaped by reflection and discipline.  Among the many biographies and tributes that you’ll read in newspapers or magazines and see on ESPN or FSN, few will capture the rarity of this man and his wisdom as do his own words in this talk.

*Image credit: Fox Sports*