Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Discipline means learning everything that helps us achieve maximum performance

In his 2002 autobiography "Knight: My Story," Bobby Knight writes about how he'd bring in guests to speak with his teams. [The following is an excerpt from the book.]

"I've always had people come in and talk to my teams. I wanted them to hear from successful people their thoughts on why they were successful and what it took to be successful."

"One of my smartest invitations was to Janos Starker (pictured below), acclaimed worldwide as a cellist and a professor in Indiana's School of Music. What would a man critics around the world have called 'the king of cellists' have to say that young basketball players would benefit from?

Here's what:

I started playing the cello when I was six. At that time, I didn't choose it. My mother did. Eventually, three years later, I realized that, first of all, it was something that I loved. I realized that I couldn't go through a day without thinking, doing, making music.

This is one of the basic principles that I state: that anyone who can go through a day without wanting to be with music or hear music or make music is not supposed to be a musician.

I believe that to be valid for every single profession. If you can go through a day without wanting it or thinking it or living with professionalism in the profession that you are in, you are not supposed to be in it.

Discipline means concentration, and concentration means discipline. The practice is just as important as the moment when you are in front of everybody.

Whether the audience cheers or not, it does not mean anything. If I know that I have done well, whether they liked it or not is not important. Did I do the best I could under the circumstances, with total concentration and dedication to the cause at the moment?

Discipline means to learn everything that helps us to the maximum performance.

Where is the parallel, the musical parallel to basketball?

For a lifetime, we develop skills, so as to find the proper note. That's why you train for a lifetime, to find the basket.

As a cellist, when you are six years of age, eight, twelve, you have to practice three or four hours a day just to obtain the basic skills and the strength in your hand and your arms and muscles, because you do need considerable muscle power. We are hitting strings with the fingers sometimes at the speed of two thousand notes per minute.

There are people who can shoot successfully eight times out of ten in practice. To improve on the percentage, you must consciously know what part of the body functions how. This requires the thinking process. It doesn't mean just that you are following the instructions of the coach. Eventually, you must use your own brain: Why does it work? Why is the coach right?

Until the individual discovers it for himself, it is never going to result in consistency.

The word consistency is key. You have to do everything that we mean when we speak of professionalism. I'm not talking about being paid for something. The professional is the one who is consistent at a higher level than anybody else."