27 Mar 2009   04:21:26 am
JOHN WOODEN: Most Successful College Basketball Coach Ever
“We're all absolutely equal in having the opportunity to make the most of what we have.”

John Wooden, most accomplished coach in college basketball history, discussing his unique definition of success.

With the NCAA basketball championship games in full swing, I thought it might be the perfect time to bring in John Wooden as one of our Inspired Athletes. In his 34th year of retirement and 98th year of life, he is still inspiring the world.

Between 1946 and 1975, John Wooden coached the UCLA Bruins basketball team to an unprecedented ten NCAA college championships, four undefeated seasons and 664 total wins (with only 162 losses)!

What makes Coach Wooden’s accomplishments so astonishing is this: HE PUT NO EMPHASIS ON WINNING – none at all. In fact, he never talked to his team about winning!

How in the world can someone be so successful and so accomplished without focusing on winning? The answer is worth its weight in gold!


“We're all absolutely equal in having the opportunity to make the most of what we have.”

Coach Wooden’s own successes are renowned the world over; here is a quick rundown of some of his remarkable accomplishments:

--He has won more NCAA championships than any other college coach in the history of the game.
--He coached his Bruins to four undefeated 30-0 seasons and at one point his team won 88 games in a row.
--In his entire history of coaching basketball, he had only one losing season, his first.
--His final win-loss record at UCLA was 664-162.
--He was the first athlete to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as both player and coach.
--He never made more than $36,000/year and he never asked for a raise.

John Wooden is a coach who won virtually all the time! Yet – and here is the most amazing and paradoxical aspect of his tremendous success – he did not focus on winning. “Coach Wooden never talked about winning. He always talked about doing our best, each guy doing his job." This from Larry Farmer, a Bruin from 1971 to 1973, with an astonishing 89-1 record.

Rather than concentrate on winning, Coach Wooden focused on being successful. In fact, he spent years creating and perfecting what he called, his Pyramid of Success, which consists of a series of 15 building blocks necessary for being successful. And – in his model, we are all EQUAL in our ability to succeed!

So, what is Coach Wooden’s definition of success?

“The definition I coined for success is: Peace of mind attained only through self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you're capable. Now, we're all equal there. We're not all equal as far as intelligence is concerned. We're not equal as far as size. We're not all equal as far as appearance. We do not all have the same opportunities. We're not born in the same environments. But we're all absolutely equal in having the opportunity to make the most of what we have and not comparing or worrying about what others have.”

As I dwell on these words, it occurs to me that winning – while undeniably important, irrefutably satisfying, and often the end-all-and-be-all for fans and players – may simply be a by-product. More specifically, a by-product of a concentrated effort to be the best we can be and make the most of what we have.

So Today’s Inquiry Becomes: Where is it time in our own life to let go of our focus on winning and begin concentrating on making the most of what we have and being the best that we can be? Arenas in which we are all equal!

John Wooden focused on being one’s best. He focused on success. And in so doing, he won more games, more championships, than any coach in college basketball history.

I would love to share more about John Wooden, for his life is filled with amazing stories – growing up on a small farm in Indiana during the depression, the tremendous role model he had in his father, his wife of 53 years, Nellie, who even though she died in 1984, still so inspires him that he writes a love letter to her every month. In lieu of writing more here, I’ve provided a number of links in case you’re interested.

To read a series of revealing interviews and wonderful stories:

http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/woo0int-1 [Coach Wooden's definition of success is in this interview.]

For some of Sports Illustrated best articles on this phenomenal man:


To read the heart-warming story of Coach Wooden’s 60+ year love affair with his wife, Nellie:

Category : General | Posted By : admin
20 Mar 2009   12:26:54 am
TY MURRAY: King of the Cowboys
“You’re never completely ready; it just becomes your turn.”

Ty Murray, rodeo superstar and Dancing with the Stars contestant, spoke these words as he awaited his turn to step out onto the dance floor.

Ty Murray’s words have been echoing through my head for two weeks now and the more I dwell on them, the more convinced I am that they hold important implications for each of us.

What have I discovered about Ty Murray, whom I had never “met” until his Dancing with the Stars debut? Not only did I find an inspired athlete, I found the most successful competitor in the entire history of rodeo! They call him, “King of the Cowboys.”


I never know where one of these truly profound Real Zeal quotes is going to come from. I am a Dancing with the Stars fan and while watching last week’s episode, I listened as Ty Murray compared his bull-riding competitions to taking the stage as a dancer: “You’re never completely ready; it just becomes your turn.”

Because these words so captivated me, I set out to determine if Ty Murray qualified as an inspired athlete who is inspiring the world. He most definitely does. And part of his inspiration? He’s someone who has been crystal clear on who he is and what he’s about since he was very young.

Ty was born to the rodeo life. His father was a rodeo hand and circuit rider; his mother a bullriding champion in the National Little Britches Rodeo. As a toddler, when Ty was outside, he loved to ride the calves and when he was inside, he was always “riding” his mother’s sewing machine case.

In the fifth grade, his teacher assigned an essay with this question: “If you could be anything in life, what would it be?” Ty’s answer: “I want to beat Larry Mahan’s record.” At the time, Larry Mahan was a rodeo legend and winner of an unprecedented six All-Around Rodeo Championships.

With this future declared at the tender age of 10, Ty did everything he could to make it come true. He used his hard earned money to buy a mechanical bucking machine. He learned to ride a unicycle to aid his balance, took up juggling to improve his coordination, and trained with his high school gymnastics squad – all with this future in mind.

He won his first Buckle at the age of 5. At the age of 9, he rode his first bull and won the competition. A few weeks later he won his first Junior Rodeo Championship (competing with a broken jaw incurred when a bull stomped on his head!). For nine years in a row, he was the Arizona All-Around Junior Rodeo Champion.

At 18, when he could become a professional in his sport, he won the Overall Rookie of the Year.

And for the next 11 years, Ty Murray dominated his sport, winning six All-Around World Championship titles, breaking one record after another, becoming the first rodeo athlete to win over $200,000 in one season, and the youngest millionaire in rodeo history.

And finally, on December 13, 1998, nineteen years after making his 5th-grade declaration, Ty Murray realized his lifelong dream by earning his record-breaking seventh All-Around World Championship title and beating Larry Mahon’s record.

So this Real Zeal conversation could very well be about the value of declaring your future as an access to realizing it – for that is certainly what Ty did and what many of the truly inspiring athletes do.

Yet I chose this particular quote “You’re never completely ready; it just becomes your turn,” because I think it’s important, maybe even critical, for each of us to examine our own lives – to consider that somewhere, in at least one area of our life, it’s become OUR turn.

This turn may be in our career, our community, our family, our health, or our relationships. It may involve taking a stand for something. Or expressing ourselves in an area we’ve been silent. It might involve creating something new or even saying no where we’ve been saying yes. Regardless, I assert, it’s time for us to step up to our turn and say YES to it.

Where else has it been Ty’s turn? In 1992, because he loved bull riding so much, he and sixteen other rodeo athletes founded the Professional Bull Riders – an organization seeking mainstream attention for what they called, “American’s original extreme sport.” Today there are over 600 members and events are now broadcast to over 600 million viewers worldwide. Ty is the organization’s president.

Ty also took his turn when he helped shepherd National Day of the Horse through the U.S. senate (in a unanimous vote) encouraging Americans “to be mindful of the contribution of horses to economy, history and character of the United States.”

Where else? Oh, yes, Ty agreed to be on Dancing with the Stars (which he says is 10,000 times harder than he ever imagined) to bring more recognition to the rodeo life he is so passionate about.

So the inquiry becomes: Where is it OUR TURN in life? Where is it time for us to “step onto the stage” or “get on that bucking bull” and say to the world: “Yes, it’s my turn. And I’m going for it!”

To read more about this inspired athlete:

To read about Ty’s story and early rodeo successes: http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1136018/index.htm

From an interview with Ty and his singer/songwriter wife, Jewell Kilcher: http://www.cmt.com/news/articles/1533217/20060530/jewel_pop_.jhtml

To read Ty’s blogs on his experience with Dancing with the Stars and to learn more about his Professional Bull Riders’ Association, visit his website at:

And finally, for a bull-riding 101 lesson and demonstrations from Ty:
Category : General | Posted By : admin
12 Mar 2009   07:22:03 pm
TORI ALLEN: Gold-Winning Rock Climber and Track Athlete
“Reach for your dream.”

Tori Allen, gold-winning rock climber and track athlete, writes these words on autographs she signs.

It is a unique story of how Tori reached for her own dream. When she was 4 years old, her parents moved the family to Africa to participate in a Christian mission. And it was in her small African village where she discovered her passion – rock climbing.

How? She mimicked the monkeys!


There is a wonderful book I’ve been reading called superwomen: 100 women, 100 sports by Jodi Buren. In it are fabulous photographs accompanied by one inspiring story after another. This book introduced me to Tori Allen and this inspiring Real Zeal Quote of the Week.

Tori actually says a bit more about reaching for your dream. "Whenever I sign autographs, I write, 'Reach for your dream,' because that's what I do and it's done me well so far. I think that you can never dream too big. Dream the impossible."

In Tori’s amazing story, it was Georgia, her pet monkey, who was instrumental in teaching her how to be the excellent climber that she is. The family moved to Africa when Tori was 4 years old and she spent much of her time climbing with the monkeys. In fact, scientists speculate that Tori’s early years mimicking the monkeys actually altered her physiological structure.

While her experience in Africa connected Tori to her dreams, it also had an additional, more social impact on her as well.

I think I don't take as much stuff for granted, you know. My grandparents would send us big boxes of toys for Christmas. And we'd open them up, and I'd pick two Barbie dolls out of the seven, and even though we wanted all the stuff, we would put all the extra toys in a wagon and take them around the village and give ‘em out. We were their Santa Claus. I feel like being there made me more sensitive to others.”

The family returned home to Indiana when Tori was ten and a month later she entered her first rock climbing competition. Not only has she excelled ever since, she beat the reigning world champion in her first climb up the wall.

Here are a few of her climbing accomplishments:
---At the age of 13, she was the only female climber to hold all four major domestic competitive titles in rock climbing.
---Tori was the youngest female climber to summit the Nose of El Capitan (2001).
---She was the 2002 Speed Climbing Champion at the ESPN X-Games, the youngest ever X-Games champion (she also set a new record in the process).

Tori achieved something entirely different, but equally inspiring, during her high school years in Indiana. As the only female pole vaulter on her all male track and field team, Tori had a strong desire to make the sport available to both sexes. So in Tori-like fashion, she successfully spearheaded a Title IX lawsuit that led to the introduction of girls' pole vault at the high school level in Indiana.

Tori is clearly a young woman who leads the way for what’s possible in life!

And speaking of what’s possible ... let’s return to the Real Zeal Quote of the Week and its application to us: “Reach for your dream.”

How many of us have lost our way and become disconnected from our dreams – disconnected from what we’re passionate about?

How many of us have stopped dreaming entirely? Given up on our dreams? Don’t even remember having dreams?

Some of us remember dreams we had as kids, but ... well ... that was then and this is now and we’ve got to live in the “real” world, right?

Ultimately, many of us have become downright cynical and resigned about life.

Tori Allen, and athletes like her, are models of inspiration – not only for us, but for the world. She is someone who follows her passions, pursues her dreams, and dedicates herself to her commitments. In so doing, she moves mountains.

So for those of us who have become disenchanted, it’s time to reconnect ourselves with dreaming – to get in touch with what we’re passionate about.

The inquiry for us: What do we have to do (or say or be) to allow ourselves to begin dreaming again – to re-activate those connections and links to our dreams and our passions ... to discover, once again, what lights us up and gets us out of bed in the morning?

To read about (and watch in action) this amazing, dream-inspiring athlete, visit these sites:

From the Discovery Channel in the series More than Human, we see Tori’s magnificent climbing abilities – we also get to observe Tori participating in a series of physiological tests that reveal, scientifically, why she’s such a great climber ... including how climbing with her monkey friends in Africa at such an early age actually changed her bone structure. (It’s 9 minutes long, but well worth watching.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcKclzbY4Yo

For a second inspiring video, watch The Real Winning Edge. This highlights Tori’s life and gives us a glimpse of her phenomenal athleticism and inspiring personality: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8V-KRHIRLA

An article featured by the Women’s Sports Foundation: http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/Content/Articles/Athletes/About%20Athletes/T/Tori%20Allen%20Going%20Up.aspx

To view the book that sourced the Real Zeal Quote of the Week: superwomen: 100 women.100 sports by Jodi Buren: http://www.amazon.com/Superwomen-Women-100-Sports-Jodi-Buren/dp/0821228919/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1236299281&sr=1-3
Category : General | Posted By : admin
05 Mar 2009   08:32:43 pm
BRANDON ROY, Portland Trailblazer & former Washington Husky
“Stay Humble.”

Brandon Roy, star of the Portland Trailblazers, keeps these words posted, in red ink, on his locker.

Sports Illustrated calls 24-year-old Brandon Roy a “young star, but an old soul.”

Fans in Portland view him as a savior – he was brought in as a young rookie to literally rebuild the franchise and heal what has been called the “Jail Blazers” era (and he’s succeeding).

The University of Washington just retired his jersey (making him one of only two players in school basketball history to have his jersey retired).

Who IS this inspiring young man?


“Stay Humble.”

These words define Brandon Roy.

Brandon Roy grew up in Seattle and is a favorite with our local media. I now know why. After Brandon’s jersey was retired in January at the University of Washington (he’s only the second player in their history to have his basketball jersey retired), I’ve started reading everything I can about this young man.

And the more I read about Brandon Roy, the more amazed I am at what I might call ... his essential goodness.

Professional sports can be a very “me” endeavor, where players are out for money and fame, often at the expense of basic values and integrity. Not Brandon Roy. He is, without a doubt, an inspired athlete who is inspiring the world. He is only 24 years old, but seems wise beyond his years. He’s kind, committed, generous, responsible, hugely successful, and yet remains authentically humble. In his own words:

"I stay humble and hard-working in my approach. I would probably just say it's the way I've been raised. I've been taught to treat people respectfully no matter what situation I'm in. So it doesn't matter if I'm an All-Star or the last man on the roster, I'm going to treat people with respect. And I hope I'm treated the same way."

And on his role as an NBA player?

"I want to change the perception of what young kids see. The NBA is not just about money, jewelry and fancy cars. It's about being a positive role model for kids . . . being able to support and take care of my family."

This young man is not only the Real Zeal, he’s the real deal!

To give you a sense of his success: He graduated from a Seattle high school in 2002; attended the University of Washington and between 2003 and 2006 he led the Huskies to an 84-42 record and was instrumental in taking his team to three straight NCAA tournaments and back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances.

He was an Associated Press first-team All-American in 2006, the Pac-10 player of the year in 2005-06 and the first Husky to average more than 20 points per game in a season in more than 20 years. As I said earlier, he is one of only two players in the university’s basketball history to have his jersey retired.

At the professional level, he was selected No. 6 in the draft by Minnesota, then traded (on draft day) to the Portland Trailblazers where he was the run-away selection for Rookie of the Year, receiving 127 of the 128 first place votes. He was essentially brought to Oregon to rebuild the franchise and heal what has been called the “Jail Blazers” era. Not only is he succeeding brilliantly, he is credited with resurrecting the Trailblazers’ reputation and love affair with the fans. On top of all this, he is an NBA All Star.

Now ... back to the Real Zeal Quote of the Week: “Stay Humble.”

The American Heritage dictionary’s definition of “humble” is: “Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.” I’ve been thinking about this definition and Brandon’s words all week. And I’ve come up with an alternative interpretation that I think expands on the definition and matches Brandon’s philosophy.

Being humble means being about something bigger than ourselves. Operating from a “we” orientation rather than a “me” perspective. Giving up that life is about what “I” do, or the money “I” make, or the accolades that “I” receive. Instead, someone who is humble knows that in the end, there is no “me,” there is only “we.” Someone who is crystal clear that life is, at heart, co-created through communication and relationship. This is what Brandon Roy so brilliantly lives.

So the inquiry becomes: Where in our life, is it time to become humble – to begin honoring the “we” and give up our (sometimes obsessive) focus on “me”?

To read more on this amazing athlete and his inspiring story:

A University of Washington interview with Brandon prior to his jersey being retired – this is particularly good because so much of it is in Brandon’s own words: http://www.gohuskies.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/012009aab.html

For a brief autobiography of Brandon’s life and his roots: http://blog.oregonlive.com/behindblazersbeat/2008/04/feb_17_an_allstar_roys_game_do.html

On his contribution to the Trailblazers: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/stevekelley/2008773582_kelley23.html

And finally, from Sports Illustrated, on Brandon’s young stardom and old soul: http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1151486/index.htm
Category : General | Posted By : admin
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Raul Ibanez, Advice to Younger Seattle Mariner Teammates
Chauncey Billups, 1st Recipient: NBA Teammate of Year
Tony Kanaan, Indianapolis 500 Winner
Kevin Durant, Star BB Player, Oklahoma City Thunder
Marion Jones, Making Amends,'Take a Break' Program
Jason Collins, NBA Player, Revealing He Is Gay
Angel Cabrera, Runner-UP, 2013 Masters Golf Tournament
Boston Marathon Tragedy
Skylar Diggins, Star Notre Dame Basketball Player
Kevin Ware, Injured Louisville Basketball Player
December 2009[11]
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