Anyone who’s involved in sports knows how easy it is to envy the top athletes’ talent and/or luck. Coach John Wooden didn’t forget to address that issue while he developed the character along with the skill of each of his athletes. There’s good reason the July 29, 2009, Sporting News Magazine declared Coach Wooden “the greatest coach ever.”
Coach Wooden was deeply religious. He had wonderful advice for all of us, not just athletes. He said simply:
“God made each of us unique.”
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes tribute book The Greatest Coach Ever goes on to give “Wooden’s Wisdom” regarding the topic of talent:
“Each one of us has a different mix of talents and a distinctive set of circumstances….If we refrain from comparing ourselves to others and stay off other people’s ladders of success, we will have peace of mind. If we put forward our best effort, we can consider ourselves to be successful.”
If we follow Coach Wooden’s advice, we will truly enjoy the journey rather than just waiting for a final goal. When I look back on my kids’ skating careers, it’s difficult to say which part was best. I loved when they first started skating, their first local competitions, their first Junior Nationals (then called Junior Olympics), later Junior Nationals, sectionals, “big” nationals, Will’s Junior Grand Prix internationals and Junior Grand Prix Finals, Chrissy’s senior internationals, Europeans, and Worlds.
There were good things about each part of my kids’ competitive journeys. And the painful times along the way, the times when they didn’t get the breaks, that was all part of their process, their “distinctive set of circumstances.” How can we compare their skating experiences with someone else’s?
Will’s competitive skating career was “perfect” for him, and Chrissy’s was “perfect” for her. I’m grateful for every opportunity we took to make competitions special at each level, for every opportunity we took to celebrate our kids’ achievements.
Let’s remember ThanksLiving. It applies to talents, too.