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self-analysis

There is value in self-analysis: self-improvement.

Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, was quoted as saying:

  • “He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.”  
  • “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.”

And taking quiet time is necessary for self-analysis.

Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, scientist and mathematician, described the importance of quiet time this way:

  • “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.”

In today’s busy world, it can be difficult to find quiet time, but any type is better than none. If you can’t find it at home or at work, try turning the radio off when you’re driving, for example.

In his book My Personal Best, Coach Wooden gives an example of how he used self-analysis to improve his approach to discipline with his athletic teams:

A good teacher or coach must not only understand others, but himself or herself as well.

One of my single biggest mistakes and regrets as a coach happened at South Bend Central because I was still figuring this out.

I had an absolute rule forbidding the use of tobacco. Any player who broke it was automatically cut from our team with no second chance, no excuses.

One of our best players broke the rule. This young man was on his way to an athletic scholarship and a good college education when I caught him smoking. In my mind, a rule was a rule—I dismissed him without remorse or a second thought.

The effect on the youngster was traumatic, and it soon became apparent. He dropped out of South Bend Central without graduating, and never got the college education and a chance for a better future he deserved.

A reprimand or a suspension would have accomplished what I wanted, but in those days I lacked the maturity and experience—wisdom—to do that.

So Coach did a self-analysis and concluded that instead of having numerous set rules with defined penalties, he should have a few rules and several suggestions for a violation, so he could deal with each situation on an individual basis.

With valid self-analysis, Coach improved.

B.C. Forbes, who founded Forbes magazine, scheduled his self-analysis with this resolution:

“I resolve…
“To sit down, all by myself and take a personal stock-taking once a month.
“To be no more charitable in viewing my own faults than I am in viewing the faults of others.
“To face the facts candidly and courageously.
“To address myself carefully, prayerfully, to remedying defects.
“I think that’s a great resolution for improvement!”

Related: Napoleon Hill’s 28 Self-Analysis Questions

Photo by @fivesixthreedays/Twenty20.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.