Whatever happened to our search for excellence? Today’s technology has given us instant access to information, family ties – even the outcome of sporting events before the winning score hits the news. But let’s not forego all the person-to-person interactions that bring out the human side of us, because even though we have the opportunity to share fabulous wins in life, there seems to be a growing trend to blame others for failures as well.
Beyond social media providing worldwide wonders and artful beauty, it’s also an open forum for naysayers, resulting in public whining, complaining, and excuse-making. In general, people are finding the need to blame anyone or anything for wrongful deeds and actions.
One of my favorite inspirations, the late UCLA coach and motivational legend John Wooden, had it right when he shared his secret of success, which he exhibited on and off the court. Decency was so important to him that team players often said they learned more about life’s lessons from Coach Wooden than winning championship basketball. After ten national championships in a span of 12 years, I’d say he knew his stuff. I had the honor of meeting Coach Wooden several times and respected his published writings. I came to memorize – and live by – one of the simplest sets of rules, which was given to him by his father.
In his book, Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, he describes the “two sets of threes” his father gave him, which were direct, simple, and aimed at how he felt people should conduct themselves in life. The first set was about honesty: “Never lie. Never cheat. Never steal.” The second set was about dealing with adversity: “Don’t whine. Don’t complain. Don’t make excuses.” As simple and perhaps naïve as these rules appear, the words have been a guiding light of moral authority for my daughters and me, which often dictated a course of action that always leaned on the positive.
No matter what we deal with in life, how we react to unforeseen challenges is up to us: we can rise above adversity, trauma, or tragedy and learn from the experience; or we can displace responsibility and blame other people and unfair circumstances, hurting or belittling others in the process. One reaction strengthens character; the other fuels bitterness.
Many might say that their particular issue is “The One” that no one can rise above. But have you ever known a super-successful person who didn’t experience some form of adversity or tragedy, where their life had hit rock bottom, or at the minimum, for which they had the choice to either rise above or feel belittled and hurt?
Whatever it is that irks you, before placing blame, posting a rant on public media feeds, or causing someone shame, take a moment. Breathe. And consider those two sets of threes.
Abella Carroll is a freelance writer