Six. Teen. Years.

So I’m reading Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Note on Pete Carroll this morning. I haven’t finished it yet. I was so struck by one of the early ideas in it that I had to jump on here and write down my thoughts.

Even though I’m “sports stupid” (and I almost skipped this note because of it) I do know who John Wooden is, and I’ve always been inspired by his success coaching the UCLA Bruins. Wooden is considered to be the greatest sports coach ever (the arguably more well known Vince Lombardi came in second.)

I knew that Wooden led the Bruins to 10 championships over 12 years. What I didn’t know was the he was coaching the Bruins for sixteen years before they won the first of those championships.

Six. Teen. Years.

One of the things that Wooden is known for is starting his players off by teaching them how to put on their socks.

Intellectually, I understood the principle behind this – drill down to the most basic fundamentals, make incremental progress, and that’s what makes a champion a champion. But I figured it was a couple of years of doing this, and BOOM! Champions. Then Champions. Then Champions. Again and again and again.

But this morning I had an emotional reaction to this idea (thus this brain dump). I could see the six years. No, no I couldn’t. Writing even that seems like too long a time.

I never would have guessed that it took




American (maybe I could go so far as Western) culture celebrates the “overnight” success. We look these people like they won the lottery – and even love stories about those who have. We don’t see the

Six. Teen. Years

of hard work that can go into getting the results that we want.

Combine this with our fascination with the outward examples of success – the fame, the money, the power – and we have a recipe for failure.

Whatever your idea of success is, for most of us it takes some (alot of!) time to get there. While there is some luck involved (genetics and environment often play more of a role than self-help gurus want to admit), when we focus on those things that we *do* have control over (like how we “put on our socks”), our chances at reaching our goals increase exponentially.

So… maybe it’s time to remind ourselves that real success isn’t going to come overnight. Figure out a system, stick to it while keeping an eye on what’s working and what isn’t, and give that bamboo plant time to break through the surface.


Six. Teen. Years.


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