3 Building Blocks to Success

by Aileen

three blocks(Part four of the Legendary John Wooden Series)

One of the many things I love about the wisdom of Coach Wooden is how his building blocks apply to both team success as well as individual success.

As I listen to conversations around me, one thing I often hear is how difficult it is to pursue personal dreams as an adult. With all the responsibilities and complexities of life, work and family, how can we fit it all in?

If you really think about it, turning dreams into reality is challenging at any age, and yet somehow we hear and read everyday about those who have struggled, persevered and accomplished the very same goals we dream about. Amazingly some have even achieved despite physical, mental, or heart-wrenching difficulties.

Those who have over come great odds inspire us to learn and recover from our own inevitable detours, setbacks and failures along our way.

By activating self-control over our emotions and actions we find ourselves moving beyond our challenges into the land of the seemingly impossible.

Self Control

“Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.” ~ John Wooden

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with self-control and discipline. When I’m on top of my game and operating at high level of discipline, I feel great about it! I feel empowered and unstoppable. Then there are the times when I want to be free and spontaneous as I rebel against the restrictions I placed on myself. So over the years, I eventually found a balance between the two by keeping a simple yet realistic schedule.

With a realistic functional schedule, it’s easier to focus on each task and it provides the structure to commit to the time allocated. I’m wildly excited about the Tick Tock Timer, that I learned from Jean of Virgin Blogger Notes. I set the timer a few minutes ahead of ending time  so I can have a moment to finish the task. One of the things I like about  it is it gives a lovely gong sound instead of the usual beeping alarm.

“Getting to the top, even once, is arduous. Staying there is even more difficult…getting there and staying there requires great self-control.” ~ John Wooden

Self-control is that choice we make after our high fades and our commitment is challenged. It shapes our character when we continue on even though we’d rather do something easier or more enjoyable. We experience self control when we choose to work through our resistance with  part of our self wanting it more than the part that want’s to give up.


“How can you perform at your best when you are using poor judgment?” ~ John Wooden

In sports and in life, the more alert we are, the more we can be on top of our game and move swiftly in the best direction. As Coach Wooden would say, we should “be quick but not hurry”

“we can learn by being observant seeing all the things around us” ~ John Wooden

Coach Wooden talks about alertness as one of the building blocks to success and alertness can be the very thing that tells us when we need to adjust,  change direction, or pick up speed. It sharpens our vision, allowing us to see the nuances and keeps us agile in life.

We are in a time of great change. It can be exciting or scary depending on how we want to perceive it. We have the choice to close our eyes and ignore it for a while, or see it and make adjustments.

By being alert to the changing times, we have a great chance at living the life we want to be living. We just need to cultivate awareness so we can make the most informed decisions. Sometimes we have life blinders on. This happens when we’ve been doing things the same way for so long without looking around at the world within us and around us. We have the opportunity every day to pay a little bit more attention to what’s happening with our perspective, our hearts and our minds. Our world is shifting, are you shifting or are you unaware and standing still?


With a solid sense of self-control and a sharp alertness, we will know when to jump in and without hesitation, take action. This can be applied to all aspects of life. There are always opportunities to take the initiative and help someone out or move a project further along.

“The greatest failure is not to act when action is needed” ~ John Wooden

Initiative is something that didn’t come naturally for me. In my early years, I had been incredibly shy and fearful of making mistakes. Fortunately, it’s the mistakes we make that allow us to learn and grow.

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” ~ John Wooden

Often times what appears to be mistakes or failures are just part of the process. In life we wont always have a coach telling us to go in, so if we sit on the side lines and wait for the perfect moment we just might miss the entire game.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise September 2, 2010

Enjoyed this post. I must go look at Jean Of Virgin Blogger Notes –
TICK TOCK TIMER. I used a timer years ago for house cleaning!!! 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there! Worked well. Thanks for your post.


Aileen September 3, 2010

Oh, I hope you do try Tick Tock Timer and tell me know what you thought of it. I find eseacily great when working on the computer and wanting to limit the amount of time on each project. – also really, really do love the gong sound. Let me know if you try it.
Thank you for your comment …and happy house cleaning :)


Jean Sarauer September 2, 2010

I’ve had to come to self-control/discipline kicking and screaming. Blogging has really done a lot to change me in this way though. In order to fit blogging in, I’ve become an early riser, have learned to work in the framework of a schedule (flexible!) and have gotten much better at focus. I always thought of self-discipline as being something rather harsh, but I’m finding that it opens up a lot of space and possibilities in my life.
Jean Sarauer´s last [type] ..Making Your Personality Shine Through Your Blog


Aileen September 3, 2010

Jean, you stated this brilliantly, “I always thought of self-discipline as being some­thing rather harsh, but I’m find­ing that it opens up a lot of space and pos­si­bil­i­ties in my life.” I scream a hearty YES to that!! Isn’t it amazing how freeing it really is?


Bamboo Forest - Tick Tock Timer September 3, 2010

“Isn’t it amaz­ing how free­ing it really is?”

That sounds like a good post idea right there.


Bamboo Forest - Tick Tock Timer September 2, 2010

Good post. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement to stay on target.

And thank you for including ‘Tick Tock Timer’. I’m very glad you find it helpful.


Aileen September 3, 2010

I do love your Tick Tock Timer!! I’ve raved about it to numerous people – it’s truly wonderful!!
Thank you for stopping by and thank you for your comment :)


Andrea DeBell - britetalk September 6, 2010

Hi Aileen! Self-control can be a biggie for me. I tend to have activity ADD once I get to the computer. I’ve been known to get lost in cyberland loosing focus of my tasks.

To deal with this issue, I started creating a daily schedule. I broke down the activity schedule into little chunks of 1/2 hr. to 1 hr. slots. Keeping track of the time was a little challenging. Therefore, the Tick Tock Timer is the answer to my prayers. I already started using it.

Thanks for such a great tool. Loving blessings!
Andrea DeBell – britetalk´s last [type] ..A Brief Guide to Loving Everyone


Aileen September 6, 2010

Hi Andrea. I’m so thrilled you like Tick Tock Timer!! – I am right there with you in getting lost in cyberland – so much great stuff to explore.


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