Make Your Own Luck: 3 Reasons Why Hard Work Is Essential To Success


John Wooden is a coaching rock star and legend.   So I thought, what better gift to give my readers during this holiday season than a series on Wooden’s Pyramid of Success?  This is the first in a series of posts that will delve into both the foundation and apex of his Pyramid.  Please join me as I examine Wooden’s thoughts on Industriousness, Enthusiasm, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation, Competitive Greatness, and finally, Faith & Patience.


What is success and how does one measure it?  Early on in my career, I read John Wooden’s book, Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court and loved it.  Oddly enough, I hadn’t heard about his Pyramid of Success at that time…and now it’s the basis of my entire coaching philosophy.  He defines success as the “peace of mind that is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”  That’s pretty awesome, huh?  My favorite aspect of that definition is that the control is in our hands…if we can say after every drill, every practice, every match, and every season that we’re satisfied with our effort, then we’ve been successful.  Let’s examine at a few different ways to look industriousness.

3 areas where industriousness is essential

Preparation: “You have to work and work hard.” As coaches, we’ve got to be the hardest workers on the court…we can’t get out-worked by our athletes.  That means practice planning has got to be on point, your scouting should leave your team feeling uber-confident, and your game plans for each opponent should be both reasonable and doable for your players.

In practice: “There is no substitute for work.” Everyone’s got to be all in about working hard.  The players can’t control their playing time, their skill ceiling, what the opponent will do…but they can control their effort level.  Some folks have been blessed with a high skill level , but low work ethic…that’s always a shame to see.  While others are stuck with a low skill level, but high work ethic…that’s also a toughie.  But when you’ve got a bunch of athletes who are able to find the sweet spot of high skill level paired with a high work ethic…good things can happen!

Off season: “A willingness to, an appetite for, hard work must be present for success.” For us coaches, we’ve got to be willing to put in the hours on the phones and in gyms in order to bring new blood to the program.  We’ve also got to put a premium on learning…from our colleagues, clinics, seminars.  Whatever it is, we owe it to ourselves and our teams to be lifelong learners about our sport.  For the players, hard work is equally important.  It could be that their hard work is in the training room doing rehab, or refocusing on their studies, or hitting it hard in the weight room.  However their hard work for the betterment of the team is defined…they’ve got to be all about it.

Since you’re the coaching nerd that I know you are, I’m sure you were already doing that stuff and demanding those things from your team.  This was just a friendly reminder that one of the cornerstones of any kind of success is hard work.