Sometimes coaches talk about the “fun” in practice and “fun” in preparing for a game. I’ve never felt there was “fun” in either one. The fun comes with winning. Discipline is recognizing what has to be done, doing it as well as you can do it, and doing it that way all the time. Having the will to win is not enough. Everyone has that. What matters is having the will to prepare to win. To me a good loser is probably someone who has had too much practice at it.
Jim Collins, the business guru, has observed that “good is the enemy of great” because if we’re too easily satisfied, we lose our edge. The first job that we have today is putting yesterday aside to be remembered later. “Early failure is usually better than early success, because the lesson in humility lasts a long time and makes you more effective over the long term.” Some things that become very bad habits should be eliminated before they begin. The simple truth is no one can do all things. Period.
That simple challenge—“Why?”—is as important as a one-word question can get. Never hesitate to ask it—especially of yourself. the risks, calculate the best alternative, and then commit to it totally. No successful person, no thinking person, continues to do something that isn’t working just because it was his or her idea. Behind that instinct were the days and weeks of practice in building up a “muscle memory” of what to do next—and what not to do. We have to have an if… then… plan to everything we are doing. Luck can win sometimes, but preparation is a more consistent formula for success. Winning is a product of good leadership. Leadership is getting people out of their comfort zone. even if well prepared, we had to execute as well as we could to beat this other team.
The point is the negative thinker always knows there is a chance that he can get beat, so he works to make that as unlikely as he can. Asking questions is the essence of learning. A coach—a leader—cannot be afraid to admit to himself or others: I don’t know. Always criticize sloppy play and praise good performance. We had to work at doing things that enabled us to win, and eliminate the sloppiness or risky plays that could beat us in a close game. The mental is to the physical as four is to one.
Insecurity can have intangible benefits. Being able to self-analyze and be self-critical is very important. You can accomplish surprising things if you ask questions and consult others about areas where you need to improve. Realizing your shortcomings takes an awareness. As a player, recognize what you’re good at, what you can do, and get as good as you can at it. But at the same time, recognize what you don’t do well now, but can with work, and—as important as anything—what you simply cannot do, now or ever.
That’s exactly what insurance is: recognition that as positive as we all like to feel about ourselves and everything around us, the reality is that unexpected things do happen, and we’d better be prepared. Success actually can be one of the biggest problems a coach or any leader has to deal with. We almost always work at finding why we lost, or failed. Too rarely do coaches think about why they won, but it’s an equally important, equally instructive question. Worry has lost a lot fewer games than over-confidence has. Don’t accept status quo. Always question—the best of all questions: “Why?” Always worry. Look for improvements to make in yourself or bad habits to break.
Don’t act without evidence or buy something without checking thoroughly. Be skeptical—untrusting. Make your players or employees work to get better—encourage them, challenge them, maybe even inspire them to do it. Never think talent alone will determine the outcome, Never talk too much. Never stop looking for new ideas. A very simple philosophy: Find ways to let the other side beat itself. Nothing can be done at once hastily and prudently. Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. There are some remedies worse than the disease.
Practice is the best of all instructors. I have often regretted my speech, never my silence. Ask NOT what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country. If you try to please everybody, you’re going to lose your ass. Having the will to win is not enough. What matters is having the will to prepare to win.