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How to Win

Getting a Life

At the coaching camp we’re attending in New Hampshire, the instructors begin with a fun little game: Who came the farthest distance be to here?

The game ended quickly when a young woman raised her hand and said, “Japan.”

It turns out that there also is a woman here from Frankfurt, Germany. And a man from Central California.

So what makes these people travel enormous distances just to learn more about coaching volleyball?

Passion. They love what they do and want to get better at it. They are lifelong learners.

John Wooden, legendary basketball coach at UCLA, spent his off-seasons going to basketball clinics. When his season ended, he would identify an area of the game in which he wanted to acquire more knowledge. Then he would spent months pursuing that knowledge.

Imagine the look on the instructor’s face when the man who had just coached the NCAA men’s championship team walked into the gym! The man who could have been GIVING the clinic was instead ATTENDING IT.

So let’s go back to wording of the question “What makes people travel enormous distance JUST to learn more about coaching volleyball?” The word JUST is the wrong word. It makes the undertaking sound trivial. It’s not. If it’s your passion — whether it’s beekeeping, juggling, music — it’s important. And you can live a splendid life by pursuing it.

I always grimace when I hear someone say to another, “Get a life!” What they really mean is, “I think what you’re doing is boring and unimportant. Start doing something that I think is interesting.”

Actually, the people have changed the word are those to whom it could have been said, “Get a life.” Thomas Edison. Marie Curie. Albert Einstein.

So if you’re passionate about something, you don’t need to get a life. You have one.


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