As a young high school English teacher in South Bend, Indiana in the 1930s, John Wooden, the legendary former coach of the UCLA men’s basketball team, was not satisfied with the prevailing definition of success. The conventional wisdom was (and still is) that success is the accumulation of possessions and power. This definition was unsatisfactory to John, so he came up with his own definition of success:
Peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing that you made the effort to do the best at which you’re capable.
In this timeless definition, success does not depend on any external factors or the perception of others. Rather, success is completely determined by the individual. Only you know if you delivered your best effort.
Peace of mind, seems to me, to be severely lacking in today’s business world. We are constantly bombarded with information, data, email, twitter, voicemail, texting and all manner of distractions. It is common to get to the end of the day and feel overwhelmed. John Wooden’s advice reminds us that we hold the keys to our own success. There are many aspects of life over which we have little to no control, but we do control our level of effort and therefore, our ability to both succeed and attain peace of mind.