Monday, October 6, 2008

Effort is internal and completely within your control

New Raiders coach Tom Cable (pictured here) is preaching effort to his team, telling his guys to:

"Never be afraid to make mistakes, but make mistakes at 100 mph, because you'll grow from that quicker, you'll learn from that quicker. Where you will see me not real friendly is if I don't like the effort. I can't stand that. We're not going to do that."

It's an important message, especially for a young team or one that's struggling, as the Raiders are.

But a focus on full effort is also something that UCLA coach John Wooden genuinely believed in, and his teams were incredibly successful.

According to Andy Hill, who played for Coach Wooden at UCLA:

"Coach [Wooden] never emphasized winning. What he talked about was the commitment to playing your hardest. Don’t permit fear of failure to prevent effort. We are all imperfect and will fail on occasion, but fear of failure is the greatest failure of all. If you gave it your best and lost, that was fine. In fact, that was better than winning with a mediocre effort.

It’s not that Coach didn’t care about winning. I don’t think I’ve ever met a more competitive man in my life. But he was smart enough to know that people focus too much on the score and tighten up.

There is no doubt that valuing effort over winning was something that Coach had integrated into his highly competitive nature at a very early age. His father told him, “Johnny, don’t you try to be better than your brothers. But try to be the best you can be. You’re gonna be better than some and there are gonna be some better than you. You’ve got to accept that. But you should never accept the fact that you didn’t make the effort to do the best that you can do.”

[As Coach Wooden used to say], 'At God’s footstool to confess, a poor soul knelt and bowed his head. I failed, he cried. The master said, thou didst thy best…that is success.'

He really does judge success by effort and by how close a group comes to realizing their own potential. By this standard, any team has the opportunity to achieve great success.

Coach’s genius was in understanding that those who spend all their time talking about winning aren’t helping their chances. Every player I’ve spoken to mentions that removing winning as the focal point reduced the pressure and fear they felt entering a game.

The key point here is that effort is internal, and is completely within your control. Winning is a byproduct of effort, but it is subject to external factors and is almost never completely within your control."