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how to influence the future

“Earn the right to be proud and confident.”
–John Wooden

Coach Wooden’s teams won 10 national championships in his last 12 years of coaching. This was accomplished with essentially five different groups of players.

A key element in Coach Wooden’s consistency was to convince each team that the legacy they were following would have no bearing on them winning their own championship.

Once a group won their first championship, Coach had to remind them that the previous championship had nothing to do with the possibility of the next one.

Coach was adamant that each player and each team understood they had to earn the right to be proud and confident.

Before each season, Coach sent the members of the team a letter. The following is an excerpt from the preseason letter sent to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his teammates after they had won two consecutive national championships, and prior to them winning their third in the 1968-69 season:

The past cannot change what is to come. The work that you do each and every day is the only true way to improve and prepare yourself for what is to come. You cannot change the past, and you can only influence the future by what you do today.

The following is another excerpt from a preseason letter, this one sent to Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe and their teammates after they had won their first national championship and prior to them winning their second in the 1970-71 season:

It has been almost four months since our basketball season came to a close. It was a very successful season, but it is now history and we must look toward the future. The past cannot change what is to come. It is what you do today that counts, and I sincerely hope that you are looking forward to an outstanding 1970–71 season and are eager, not just willing, to make the necessary personal sacrifices to reach that goal.

The following is yet another excerpt from a preseason letter, this one sent to Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes and their teammates after they had won their first championship and prior to them winning their second in the 1972-73 season:

I must caution you that you cannot live in the past. The 1971–72 season is now history, and we must look toward the future. The past cannot change what is to come. The work that you do each and every day is the only true way to improve and prepare yourself for what is to come. You cannot change the past, but you can influence the future by what you do today.

The theme was simple and consistent. Confidence is a result of hard work and preparation. It is not a gift or a birthright.

You must earn the right to be proud and confident.

Related: You Must Prepare to Succeed

Photo by Anna Kapustina/Pexels.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.