Being Your Best Self

“Never try to be better than anyone else, but never stop trying to be the best you can be.” – John Wooden

John Wooden was a high school English teacher who became a legendary basketball coach. During his career in the classroom, he became frustrated by the school system’s focus on results rather than effort. As he saw it, success was not about exam results, but about the effort put in by students throughout their studies. He believed that if a student did their best at every stage in their education, then they were a success, irrespective of exam results.

You see, a student might come out top of the class in terms of exam results, but is being better than the others in the class the same as being the best you can be? No. John saw the same flawed thinking on the basketball court. For him, success wasn’t about final scores, it was all about the journey leading up to the final scores, so he set about creating his own definition of true success…

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

The Pyramid of Success

John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success first appeared in 1948, but it continues to inspire greatness in sport, education, business, and just about all areas of life to this day. At its pinnacle sits Competitive Greatness, to which John added, “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.” A total of 15 building blocks complete the pyramid, each one providing a character trait or value deemed essential to reaching the pinnacle of success, but all of them rest on the cornerstones of Industriousness and Enthusiasm.

Industriousness – In other words, success can only be yours if you work hard at achieving it. John puts it this way: “Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick, no easy way.” Of course, industriousness is not just about being busy, it’s about focusing your energy on what matters most, and putting your best effort into everything you do.

Think about it: Is doing enough to pass an exam or win a game really the same as doing your best and giving it everything you’ve got?

Enthusiasm – In other words, you need to put your heart into whatever you do. Without enthusiasm, you’re not industrious, you’re just going through the motions. As John puts it: Without enthusiasm you cannot work up to your fullest ability and potential; you’re just going through the motions. And just going through the motions won’t bring you to the level of competitive greatness we seek whether in basketball, business, or life.” 

Think about it: It takes drive and dedication to succeed in anything. Is it even possible to maintain that drive if you don’t love what you’re doing?

Being Your Best Self

The bottom line is that being your best self is not about being top of the class or top of the league, it’s all about putting your best effort into everything you do. Whatever it is you choose to do, ask yourself, are you giving it everything you’ve got, and are you giving it with enthusiasm? To get to the top of the pyramid, you must never stop trying to be the best you can be. 


Don MacNaughton

High Performance Coach & Best Selling Author

Don is an exceptional communicator whose ability to inspire and engage is guaranteed to give you energy and motivation. He has helped thousands of people in the sporting, business, corporate, community and education worlds to change the way they think – and act.

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