“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance but to do what lies clearly at hand.” - Thomas Carlyle
John Wooden is a true legend and a hero of mine. As coach of the UCLA basketball program, his team won an incredible 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years during the 1960s and 1970s. He was named Coach of the Century by ESPN.
What is amazing about John Wooden is that he never spoke to his team about winning. Not at the beginning of the season. Not at halftime of a game. Never.
Wooden always spoke to his players about doing their best in the moment. His practice sessions were legendary for being planned down to the minute. (His practice notes can be seen in his book Wooden on Leadership.) He thought if his team did its best everyday, winning would take care of itself.
Here are three reasons to focus on doing your very best today:
1. It kicks procrastination’s butt.
If you have a goal in the distance, it is easy to put things off. Let’s say you have a goal of losing 10 pounds in six weeks, it is easy to slack off today because you still have time ‘tomorrow.’ As someone once said, “Tomorrow is always the busiest day of the week.”
2. It gives you joy in the journey, not just the destination.
I recently started my own business. I believe it will be a success, but I want to find fulfillment and delight now–as I build it–not just when I have reached all my business goals.
3. It focuses you on what you can control.
Instead of worrying about competing with others, you concentrate on being the best you can be. Contrary to popular practice, John Wooden never scouted his opponents. He concentrated on getting his players in such good shape that towards the end of the game, they would run the other team off the floor. Wooden and his team could not control their opponents, but they could control themselves.
When I started my business a few months ago, my daughter, Olivia, gave me a paperweight for my desk that reads “If you do little things well, you’ll do big ones better.”
Think big and bold, but start small and specific. Start today. Start now. I am not against goal-setting. It is important to step into the future with purpose and direction, but there is something to be said for focusing on the here and now.
Tom Peters has a wonderful ebook titled, Excellence Now, in which he describes a simple concept that I love: “Excellence is the next 5 minutes.” Do your best in the next 5 minutes. Then the next 5 minutes. And so on.
So determine to win the day. If you do, you just might win championships.