John Wooden: They’re all important, but the first two blocks that I chose were the cornerstones. If any structure is to have strength or solidity, it better have a strong foundation. Of course, the cornerstones anchor the foundation. One cornerstone is industriousness and the other one is enthusiasm. I think you have to work hard at whatever you’re doing. If you’re looking for the shortcut, the trick, the easy way, you can get by, perhaps, for a while, but you won’t be strengthening the talents that lie within you. I often use verse to make a point. Grantland Rice wrote a poem called “How To Be a Champion.” In part, he said:
You wonder how they do it and you look to see the knack,
You watch the foot in action, or the shoulder or the back,
But when you spot the answer where the higher glamours lurk,
You’ll find in moving higher up the laurel covered spire,
That the most of it is practice and the rest of it is work.
And there’s another verse or two that say essentially the same thing. There’s a lot of truth in that. And then, the other: enthusiasm. If you don’t like what you’re doing, how in the world can you do the best of which you’re capable? You can’t reach your own particular level of competency unless you enjoy it, unless you’re enthusiastic about it. You may be talented and you may be better than somebody else, but if it’s not near your own particular level of competency, you’re not really succeeding. Of course, we’re all imperfect and there’s no such thing as perfection, but it’s something to work toward. Those blocks just stand. I never change them.