John Wooden defines success

March, 14, 2011
3/14/11
2:43
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
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I know, I know, this has been written about a zillion times. He has volumes and volumes on the topic.

But as we're thinking about great achievements in college basketball, here's a line from a TED talk the great UCLA coach gave in February 2001.

"Peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction, in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable."

This is another way of saying you may fail, but don't fail for lack of effort.

Words to live by.

It's also another way of saying something all kinds of successful people insist is true: Judge quality not by outcome, but by process. If you have a good process, you will win some and lose some, but the long-term trend will be on your side. If you have bad process, you might have some great wins now and again, but the long-term trend will be against you.

The problem with judging things by outcome -- especially a single-elimination tournament -- is that outcomes of quick events like that are imperfect judges of total quality. Some great teams will lose. Some mediocre teams will get lucky. The outcome will be fun to watch, but not necessarily all that accurate as a measure of total team quality.

But between now and the end of time, whether in basketball or anything else, fortune will very often smile on those who put forward great effort.

Henry Abbott | email

TrueHoop, NBA

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