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Controlling What You Can

Yesterday Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals hit two more home runs, prompting a reporter to ask Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa if Pujols deserves to be voted this year’s Most Valuable Player.

Answered LaRussa, “Those kinds of questions are distractions, and I don’t answer them.”

Though the reporter probably didn’t appreciate LaRussa’s response, it reflected the attitude that champions must take toward their work. They must pay attention to the things they can control, and ignore the things they can’t.

LaRussa and all coaches can control certain things: their lineups, their own preparation, the team rules, etc. There are certain things that they can’t control: who votes for which awards, what newspaper columnists say, how good the opponent is, etc.

Life is a focus game, and the secret is to focus on the correct thing as often as possible. My friend Gary Pritchard makes this point in his team-building seminars. He also offers this quote: “Every day isn’t wrapped in a bow, but each one is a gift.” Each day brings opportunity, but only if it is approached with reverence and focus.

Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day a masterpiece.” Start by controlling the things you can and, like Tony LaRussa, ignoring the things you can’t.


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