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Lessons About Success From Coach John Wooden

Do you read Tracey Broome's blog?  If not, you should.  She often writes about stuff that is going on in her head, the kind of stuff that gets into your head and sticks there forcing you to think.  She did that recently with a blog post about branding herself as an artist.  Which inspired Michael Kline to write a reply on his blog, which inspired Carter Gillies to write a reply on his blog.  All of these blog posts seem to have a common underlying theme (besides pottery), the concept of the joy of success.

A few days before all these blog posts where published I heard an article on NPR about John Wooden who is the winningest coach in history or in UCLA's history or something like that.  I'm not a huge fan of basketball so I didn't pay great attention until I heard something that struck a cord in me.  Coach Wooden never told his players to focus on winning the game, he never even talked about it.  What he tried to inspire his athletes to do was to try to do the best that they could do.  Period.

This is a lesson that I need to take.  I'm always seeing what other people are doing and comparing myself to them.  When I see someone I know got into a show that I did not get into I question what I could have done differently.  I see another potter get into a gallery, I'm happy for them but I also compare myself to them and think that the gallery may not need another functional potter, or any functional potter at all.  The Firedworks show set me into a panic every year, I ask myself "why would anyone buy my work when they can get pots from all these talented potters?"  I realize this is self defeating behavior,  some people like my work, others do not.  It's that simple.

So if I make the best pots that I can make, and do the best I can to get them seen then I should have at least enough success in my work that I can continue making pottery.

I found a few topics to discuss in the Ted Talk but I'll save them for other blogs so you can watch the video and get on with your day.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. It's all about not paying attention to your Lizard Brain.

    My way off battling that? Ask myself, What would I do tomorrow if I were not afraid?

    Gives me so many choices. Fear gives me one choice, and it's from a place of poverty in my soul. No. Been there, done that. FTS.

    Difficult at times when those loving me the most question my sanity. My response is easy, I must do what my heart says.

    Bottom line, I make my living designing gardens, for 3 decades. Even in this bad economy. That is my success. No worries about what others think.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    1. Thanks Tara, you have the right mind set, your success proves it. Great words of advice.

  2. DO your best, amen :) I do not want to look at many other pots today, after John Wooden's advice, because I think I prefer to work on my best today, rather than compare myself to know? I was recently flipping through Simon Leach's new book, which is a wonderful basic pottery guide with dvds, and he helps me think of the basis for best: good practices, clean habits, and careful editing of your technique and the final product NOT what he makes or someone else. It is funny, looking through his modest book filled with delightful yet humble, well-made pots, I realized that the humilty comes from simply making a good piece, his best. He is not proving anything to anyone, just making a pleasing and useful item, the best he can do.

    1. Good thoughts Gary, Simon and his family have always done that, just make good, honest pots and it has worked for them for 3 generations.

  3. Going to watch that TED talk. THanks, I needed that, right here right now!

    1. You're welcome Barb, I hope you fine it as inspiring as I did.

  4. Great post! Now I may need to follow up with a post of my own! Hehe
    But as long as you do the best you can, that's all anyone can ask of you. ? And all you can ask of yourself.



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