Friday, September 20, 2013

Habit, Attitude and Promises to Yourself

John W. Scott's book Step-by-Step Basketball Fundamentals (Prentice Hall, 1989) contains wisdom that can be applied beyond the basketball court--and even outside of sports in general. The author of this first passage, quoted on page 142, is unknown:

I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper--or your heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the tasks you do you might just as well turn over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. 

I am easily managed. You must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great men--and, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine, but I work with all the precision of a machine, plus the intelligence of a man. You may run me for profit or run me for ruin. It makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will put the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I? I am HABIT.

I have always been a fan of wisdom presented in aphoristic form. On pp. 144-145, Scott lists a series of inspirational quotations; here is a sampling:

"To every man comes in his lifetime a special moment when he is tapped on the shoulder and offered a very special job, fitting and unique only to his talents. What a shame and a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work."--Winston Churchill

"Blessed are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true."

"Desire is the conception of talent."--J.W. Scott

"There are three kinds of people: Those who want to make things happen, those who don't know what happened and those who make things happen."

"It's better to shoot for the stars and miss, than aim for the gutter and hit."

"There is no chance, no fate, no destiny that can circumvent, hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul."

"If you perceive a goal, and reach it, you live a dream."--Lou Brock

"Make no small plans, for they have no magic to stir people's souls."--Daniel Burnham

"Each day is like a stitch in your own little pattern. The more time and effort you put into your goals, the stronger your design will be."--J.W. Scott

"The only way to coast is by going downhill!"--Zig Zigglar

"The weak let their thoughts control their actions; the strong make their actions control their thoughts."--Og Mandino

"My life is my message."--Mahatma Gandhi

"Adversity, temptation, depression, and trials come to you when you are doing something right or are about to receive a blessing, calling or victory. Your failure to persist will turn them away."--J.W. Scott

"With ordinary thought and extraordinary persistence, all things are attainable."--Thomas Buxton

"The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement!"

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed."--Booker T. Washington

"It's okay to have butterflies; just make sure they fly in formation!"

"Work is the only fuel the vehicle of success will run on."--J.W. Scott

"A champion doesn't give up; he gets up!"

"The smallest action is better than the greatest intention."

"The most valuable gift you give to another is a good example."

"Growth is the only evidence of life."

"Winners contemplate their desires, not their limitations."

"Desire can rewrite all of your scouting reports."

On p. 146, the chapter titled "Attitude" begins with an epigraph titled "Promise Yourself," written by an anonymous author:
  • To be strong so nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something great within them.
  • To look for good in everything and make your optimism come true.
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best, to expect only the best, and never to settle for anything short of the best within yourself.
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
The "Attitude" chapter concludes with a lengthy passage by Sydney J. Harris:

How to Tell a Winner

A loser believes in "fate"; a winner believes that we make our fate by what we do or fail to do.

A loser looks for the easy way to do it; a winner knows that "the easy way" and "the hard way" are both meaningless terms--there are only innumerable wrong ways, and one right way, to achieve a goal.

A loser blames "politics" or "favoritism" for his failure; a winner would rather blame himself than others--but he doesn't waste much time with any kind of blame.

A loser feels cheated if he gives more than he gets; a winner feels that he is simply building up credit for the future.

A loser becomes bitter when he's behind, and careless when he's ahead; a winner keeps his equilibrium no matter which position he happens to find himself in.

A loser smolders with unexpressed resentment at bad treatment, and revenges himself by doing worse; a winner freely expresses resentment at bad treatment, discharges his feelings and then forgets it.

A loser sometimes tries to imitate a winner, but he takes only temporary winners as his models; a winner knows who is worth learning from and who is only a sham success.

A loser is afraid to acknowledge his defects; a winner is aware that his defects are part of the same central system as his assets, and while he tries to minimize their effect, he never denies their influence. 

A loser prides himself on his "independence" when he is merely being contrary and prides himself on his "teamwork" when he is merely being conformist; a winner knows which decisions are worth an independent stand, and which should be gone along with.

A loser is envious of winners and contemptuous of other losers; a winner judges others only by how well they live up to their own capacities, by some external scale of worldly success, and can have more respect for a capable shoeshine boy than for a crash opportunist.

A loser leans on those stronger than himself, and takes out his frustrations on those weaker than himself; a winner leans on himself, and does not feel imposed upon when he is leaned on.

A loser thinks there are rules for winning and losing: a winner knows that every rule in the book can be broken, except one--be who you are, and become what you were meant to be, which is the only winning game in the world.

No comments: