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  • I coined my own definition of success

  • in 1934, when I was teaching at a high school in South Bend, Indiana,

  • being a little bit disappointed, and delusioned perhaps, by

  • the way parents of the youngsters in my English classes

  • expected their youngsters to

  • get an A or a B. They thought a C was all right for the neighbors' children,

  • because the neighbors children are all average.

  • But they weren't satisfied when their own --

  • would make the teacher feel that they had failed, or the youngster had failed.

  • And that's not right. The good Lord in his infinite wisdom

  • didn't create us all equal as far as intelligence is concerned,

  • any more than we're equal for size, appearance.

  • Not everybody could earn an A or a B, and I didn't like that way of judging it.

  • And I did know how the alumni of various schools

  • back in the 30s judged coaches and athletic teams.

  • If you won them all, you were considered to be reasonably successful --

  • not completely. Because I found out --

  • we had a number of years at UCLA where we didn't lose a game.

  • But it seemed that we didn't win each individual game by the margin

  • that some of our alumni had predicted and

  • quite frequently I --

  • (Laughter)

  • -- quite frequently I really felt that they had backed up their predictions

  • in a more materialistic manner.

  • But that was true back in the 30s, so I understood that.

  • But I didn't like it. And I didn't agree with it.

  • And I wanted to come up with something that I hoped could make me a better teacher,

  • and give the youngsters under my supervision --

  • whether it be in athletics or in the English classroom --

  • something to which to aspire,

  • other than just a higher mark

  • in the classroom, or more points in some athletic contest.

  • I thought about that for quite a spell,

  • and I wanted to come up with my own definition. I thought that might help.

  • And I knew how Mr. Webster defined it:

  • as the accumulation of material possessions

  • or the attainment of a position of power or prestige, or something of that sort --

  • worthy accomplishments perhaps,

  • but in my opinion not necessarily indicative of success.

  • So I wanted to come up with something of my own.

  • And I recalled -- I was raised on a small farm in Southern Indiana

  • and Dad tried to teach me and my brothers

  • that you should never try to be better than someone else.

  • I'm sure at the time he did that, I didn't -- it didn't --

  • well, somewhere, I guess in the hidden recesses of mind,

  • it popped out years later.

  • Never try to be better than someone else,

  • always learn from others. Never cease

  • trying to be the best you can be -- that's under your control.

  • If you get too engrossed and involved and concerned

  • in regard to the things over which you have no control,

  • it will adversely affect the things over which you have control.

  • Then I ran across this simple verse that said,

  • "At God's footstool to confess, a poor soul knelt, and bowed his head.

  • 'I failed!' He cried.

  • The Master said, 'Thou didst thy best, that is success.'"

  • From those things, and one other perhaps,

  • I coined my own definition of success,

  • which is: peace of mind attained only through

  • self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best

  • of which you're capable.

  • I believe that's true. If you make the effort

  • to do the best of which you're capable, to try and improve the situation

  • that exists for you, I think that's success.

  • And I don't think others can judge that. I think it's like character and reputation.

  • Your reputation is what you are perceived to be;

  • your character is what you really are.

  • And I think that character is much more

  • important than what you are perceived to be.

  • You'd hope they'd both be good,

  • but they won't necessarily be the same.

  • Well, that was my idea that I was going to try to get across to the youngsters.

  • I ran across other things. I love to teach,

  • and it was mentioned by the previous speaker

  • that I enjoy poetry, and I dabble in it a bit, and love it.

  • There are some things that helped me, I think,

  • be better than I would have been. I know I'm not what I ought to be,

  • not what I should be. But I think I'm better than I would have been

  • if I hadn't run across certain things.

  • One was just a little verse that said,

  • "No written word, no spoken plea

  • can teach our youth what they should be.

  • Nor all the books on all the shelves --

  • it's what the teachers are themselves."

  • That made an impression on me

  • in the 1930s.

  • And I tried to use that more or less in my teaching,

  • whether it be in sports, or whether it be in the English classroom.

  • I love poetry and always had an interest in that somehow.

  • Maybe it's because Dad used to read to us at night.

  • Coal oil lamp -- we didn't have electricity

  • in our farm home.

  • And Dad would read poetry to us. So I always liked it.

  • And about the same time I ran across this one verse,

  • I ran across another one. Someone asked

  • a lady teacher why she taught.

  • And she -- after some time, she said she wanted to think about that.

  • Then she came up and said,

  • "They ask me why I teach

  • and I reply, 'Where could I find such splendid company?'

  • There sits a statesman, strong, unbiased, wise;

  • another Daniel Webster, silver-tongued.

  • A doctor sits beside him,

  • whose quick steady hand may mend a bone,

  • or stem the life-blood's flow.

  • And there a builder. Upward rise the arch of a church he builds,

  • wherein that minister may speak the word of God

  • and lead a stumbling soul to touch the Christ.

  • And all about a gathering of teachers,

  • farmers, merchants, laborers:

  • those who work and vote and build and plan and pray into a great tomorrow.

  • And I may say, I may not see the church,

  • or hear the word or eat the food their hands may grow.

  • But yet again I may. And later I may say,

  • I knew him once, and he was weak, or strong,

  • or bold or proud or gay.

  • I knew him once, but then he was a boy.

  • They ask me why I teach and I reply,

  • 'Where could I find such splendid company?'"

  • And I believe the teaching profession --

  • it's true, you have so many youngsters.

  • And I've got to think of my youngsters at UCLA --

  • 30-some attorneys, 11 dentists and doctors,

  • many, many teachers and other professions.

  • And that gives you a great deal of pleasure,

  • to see them go on.

  • I always tried to make the youngsters feel

  • that they're there to get an education, number one.

  • Basketball was second, because it was paying their way,

  • and they do need a little time for social activities,

  • but you let social activities take a little precedence over the other two

  • and you're not going to have any very long.

  • So that was the ideas that I tried to get across

  • to the youngsters under my supervision.

  • I had three rules, pretty much, that I stuck with practically all the time.

  • I'd learned these prior to coming to UCLA,

  • and I decided they were very important.

  • One was -- never be late. Never be late.

  • Later on I said certain things --

  • I had -- players, if we're leaving for somewhere, had to be neat and clean.

  • There was a time when I made them wear jackets and shirts and ties.

  • Then I saw our chancellor coming to school

  • in denims and turtlenecks, and I thought,

  • not right for me to keep this other.

  • So I let them -- just they had to be neat and clean.

  • I had one of my greatest players that you probably heard of,

  • Bill Walton. He came to catch the bus;

  • we were leaving for somewhere to play.

  • And he wasn't clean and neat, so I wouldn't let him go.

  • He couldn't get on the bus. He had to go home and get cleaned up

  • to get to the airport.

  • So I was a stickler for that. I believed in that.

  • I believe in time -- very important.

  • I believe you should be on time. But I felt at practice, for example,

  • we start on time, we close on time.

  • The youngsters didn't have to feel that we were going to keep them over.

  • When I speak at coaching clinics, I often tell

  • young coaches -- and at coaching clinics, more or less,

  • they'll be the younger coaches getting in the profession.

  • Most of them are young, you know, and probably newly married.

  • And I tell them, "Don't run practices late.

  • Because you'll go home in a bad mood.

  • And that's not good, for a young married man to go home in a bad mood.

  • When you get older, it doesn't make any difference." But --

  • (Laughter)

  • So I did believe on time. I believe starting on time,

  • and I believe closing on time.

  • And another one I had was, not one word of profanity.

  • One word of profanity, and you are out of here for the day.

  • If I see it in a game, you're going to come out and sit on the bench.

  • And the third one was, never criticize a teammate.

  • I didn't want that. I used to tell them I was paid to do that.

  • That's my job. I'm paid to do it. Pitifully poor, but I am paid to do it.

  • Not like the coaches today, for gracious sakes, no.

  • It's a little different than it was in my day.

  • Those were three things that I stuck with pretty closely all the time.

  • And those actually came from my dad.

  • That's what he tried to teach me and my brothers at one time.

  • I came up with a pyramid eventually,

  • that I don't have the time to go on that.

  • But that helped me, I think, become a better teacher.

  • It's something like this:

  • And I had blocks in the pyramid,

  • and the cornerstones being industriousness and enthusiasm,

  • working hard and enjoying what you're doing,

  • coming up to the apex

  • according to my definition of success.

  • And right at the top -- faith and patience.

  • And I say to you, in whatever you're doing,

  • you must be patient. You have to have patience to --

  • we want things to happen. We talk about our youth being impatient a lot.

  • And they are. They want to change everything.

  • They think all change is progress.

  • And we get a little older -- we sort of let things go.

  • And we forget there is no progress without change.

  • So you must have patience.

  • And I believe that we must have faith.

  • I believe that we must believe,

  • truly believe. Not just give it word service;

  • believe that things will work out as they should,

  • providing we do what we should.

  • I think our tendency is to hope that things will turn out the way we want them to

  • much of the time. But we don't do the things that are necessary

  • to make those things become reality.

  • I worked on this for some 14 years,

  • and I think it helped me become a better teacher.

  • But it all revolved around that original definition of success.

  • You know a number of years ago, there was a Major

  • League Baseball umpire by the name of George Moriarty.

  • He spelled Moriarty with only one 'i'.

  • I'd never seen that before, but he did.

  • Big league baseball players --

  • they're very perceptive about those things,

  • and they noticed he had only one 'i' in his name.

  • You'd be surprised how many also told him

  • that that was one more than he had in his head

  • at various times.

  • (Laughter)

  • But he wrote something that I think he did

  • while I tried to do in this pyramid. He called it "The Road Ahead,

  • or the Road Behind."

  • "Sometimes I think the Fates must

  • grin as we denounce them and insist

  • the only reason we can't win, is the Fates themselves that miss.

  • Yet there lives on the ancient claim:

  • we win or lose within ourselves. The shining trophies on our shelves

  • can never win tomorrow's game.

  • You and I know deeper down, there's always a chance to win the crown.

  • But when we fail to give our best,

  • we simply haven't met the test, of giving all

  • and saving none until the game is really won;

  • of showing what is meant by grit;

  • of playing through when others quit;

  • of playing through, not letting up.

  • It's bearing down that wins the cup. Of dreaming there's a goal ahead;

  • of hoping when our dreams are dead;

  • of praying when our hopes have fled.

  • Yet losing, not afraid to fall,

  • if bravely we have given all. For who can ask more of a man

  • than giving all within his span.

  • Giving all, it seems to me, is not so far from victory.

  • And so the fates are seldom wrong, no matter how they twist and wind.

  • It's you and I who make our fates --

  • we open up or close the gates on the road ahead or the road behind."