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worry about the what ifs

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.” –Muhammad Ali

The message is clear: Don’t worry about all the “what if” things that might happen. Concentrate on what you’re doing right now.

For Coach Wooden, the focus was on the practice at hand, not the possible outcome of an upcoming game. For Muhammad Ali, the focus was on the grueling training session today, not the possible outcome of a future bout.

When Coach was in high school, his father gave him this humorous essay he had come across on the subject of worry:

There are really only two things to worry about: whether you are a success or whether you are a failure. If you are a success, there is no cause for worry, and if you are a failure—

There are only two things to worry about: whether you have your health or whether you do not have your health. If you are healthy, a healthy person certainly should not worry, and if you do not have your health—

There are only two things to worry about: whether you regain your health and get well or whether you fail to regain your health and pass on. If you regain your health, there is no cause for worry, and if you fail to regain your health and pass on—

There are only two things to worry about: whether you will go to the place where we all hope to go or whether you go to that other place. If you go to the place where we all hope to go, you should not have worried, and if you go to that other place—

You are going to be with all your friends and the people here.

So why worry?

Coach enjoyed sharing this essay. As he put it, even though it’s tongue in cheek, when things seem to be piling up against you, it’s worth a glance.

In his book with Steve Jamison, The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership, Coach commented on the difference between worry and concern:

“Worry”  is fretting about the future. “Concern” is figuring out future solutions. When you are “concerned,” you’re going to analyze and determine where and how to improve.

If you are “worried,” you’re just fretting that things won’t turn out right regardless of what you do—wringing your hands and imagining bad things.

“Concern” leads to results; “worry” results in losing a good night’s sleep. I lost very little sleep fretting; I didn’t mind losing sleep figuring out solutions.

Pleasant dreams! Here’s hoping we can stay in the solutions department and make the day count.

Related: Why You Shouldnt Be Afraid of Making Mistakes

Photo by sirtravelalot/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.