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Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

In his book with Steve Jamison, Coach Wooden’s Leadership Game Plan for Success: 12 Lessons for Extraordinary Performance and Personal Excellence, Coach commented on this quote—a favorite of his:

“Time is limited. Focus on that which you can improve, correct, or change. Ignore what you can’t control.”

Coach Wooden focused only on those things he could do. As a byproduct of that approach, he was able to focus on them with an amazing amount of detail.

The following account regarding the proper way to put on your socks from his book Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court, is an excellent example:

“At the first squad meeting each season, held two weeks before our first actual practice, I personally demonstrated how I wanted players to put on their socks each and every time: Carefully roll the socks down over the toes, ball of the foot, arch, and around the heel, then pull the sock up snug so there will be no wrinkles of any kind.

“I would then have the players carefully check with their fingers for any folds or creases in the sock, starting at the toes and sliding the hand along the side of and under the foot, smoothing the sock out as the fingers passed over it. I paid special attention to the heel because that is where wrinkles are most likely. I would watch as the player smoothed the sock under and along the back of the heel. I wanted it done conscientiously, not quickly or casually.

“I wanted absolutely no folds, wrinkles, or creases of any kind on the sock. Then we would proceed to the other foot and do the same. I would demonstrate for the players, and then have the players demonstrate for me.

“This may seem like a nuisance, trivial, but I had a very practical reason for being meticulous about this. Wrinkles, folds, and creases can cause blisters. Blisters interfere with performance during practice and games. Since there was a way to reduce blisters, something the player and I could control, it was our responsibility to do it.”

If we focus on what we can do, we will have time for the details in those endeavors that are critical to success in anything.

Photo by Karen Dole/Shutterstock.com

Craig Impelman
As Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law, Craig Impelman had the opportunity to learn Coach’s teachings firsthand and wrote about those lessons for his site, www.woodenswisdom.com. He is a motivational speaker and the author of Wooden’s Wisdom, a weekly “e-coaching module” that is distributed to companies nationally.