July 5, 2011

Do it Right

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden

Imagine what the Minnesota Golden Gopher basketball program would be today had John Wooden landed here instead of UCLA back in 1948.  Arguably the best coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history, Coach Wooden wanted Minnesota and Minnesota wanted Coach Wooden.  But a snow storm took out the phone lines at the U of M campus and Wooden accepted the UCLA job thinking Minnesota had lost interest.  When Minnesota got through to Wooden, he opted to keep his word with UCLA despite his and his wife’s strong desire to stay in the Midwest.

Would he have won seven championships in a row in maroon and gold like he did in blue and gold?  Of course it’s impossible to know.  But John Wooden was a man of utmost class, truest conviction, and highest esteem, qualities that would benefit any program.

John Wooden was an outstanding coach, but like the admirable Tony Dungy today, he desired to be recognized as a man of God, a man of family, and a man of character before being recognized as a coach.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeking status for the sake of status.  To be envied by your peers.  To be rich and famous as a movie star or director or producer.  But what good is fame and fortune if you’re a butthead?

As Jesus said, what good is it to gain the world but lose your soul?

Christian or not, I would hope everybody recognizes just how small they are in this giant world.  Nobody’s bigger than you and you’re bigger than nobody.  I am no more deserving of a successful Hollywood career than the nauseating abundance of reality television stars clogging the airwaves.  But I’m no less deserving of a successful Hollywood career than Howard, Clooney, or Jolie.

But more important than ‘making it’ as I’ve been trying so hard to do for so many years now is emulating John Wooden.  I hope I show class.  I hope I show conviction.  And I hope I am esteemed among my peers.  I’d rather be those things and not make it than lose those things and make it.

At least I can control my character even if I can’t dictate the level of my professional success.