John Wooden on President Lincoln

One of the first things that stood out to me about Lincoln's life was the way he handled adversity.  His mother died while he was still very young.  He didn't have consistent access to schooling, so he taught himself.  He was defeated in his first attempt at public office.  He filed for bankruptcy.  He was unlucky in love.  He lost three times in his bid for the U.S. Senate.  He suffered from what would probably be considered by today's standards to be severe clinical depression.  But he persevered.  It wasn't just his presidency that interested me; it was also everything he encountered on the road to the presidency that really captured my attention.

Had Lincoln been given the option, he probably would not have selected all of the trials he suffered; but rather than collapsing under their weight, he used them to strengthen himself for his next goal.  He was determined to learn from everything that came his way, even if the lesson was painful and the experience heartbreaking.  "I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday," he once remarked.  To him, life was a series of lessons that presented opportunities.  Wisdom came from making the most of each one.

It seems to me that had Lincoln not gone through all of the disappointments he did before he became the commander in chief, he would not have been adequately prepared to preside during arguably the most tumultuous period of American History.  Because he had not been spared the harsh realities of life -- the heartaches and the disappointments -- he could deal with the larger trials that awaited him down the road.

Lincoln himself once said, "The worst things you can do for those you love are the things they could and should do for themselves."  He fiercely believed in self-sufficiency, and in the maturity and character that struggles and hardships can bring.  This lesson is so important for teachers and parents.  It is only natural for us to want to shield our students and our children from anything that might possibly cause them hurt or to suffer or even to be uncomfortable.  But some degree of pain is necessary for a person to become suited for the responsibilities that lay ahead.

The preceding text is an exerpt of pages 78-79 from the book A Game Plan for Life by John Wooden and Don Yaeger.

Wisest man to ever live. (Besides Jesus)

I am a huge fan of John Wooden- Wooden was probably the best basketball coach ever.  His UCLA teams won 88 consecutive games and 10 NCAA championships.  He had four undefeated seasons, and won 80% of his games.  John Wooden was even more successful as a teacher of people.  He didn't see his job as just an opportunity to win basketball games and develop professional players, he saw it as a chance to develope people.  I tell you all that this week because I recently purchased a childrens book that he wrote that is designed to help kids- understand success.  He has a series of poems that talk about - hard work- enthusiasm - friendship - loyalty and many other traits that succesful people have.  Here is a poem defining success for kids.

Success isn't having trophies or toys

It isn't a medal or friends of your choice

What is success?  That's easy to see

It's trying to be the best that you can be

Don't worry what others may have or might say

When trying your best---Success comes your way