John Wooden is arguably one of the greatest basketball coaches in history. He led the men’s basketball program at UCLA to 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including an 88-game win streak and 4 perfect seasons. Yet, Wooden’s pursuit was never to build a dynasty, but rather to teach his players how to become the best team they could be.
He coined the phrase “Competitive Greatness.” It means striving to be the best we can, not trying to be the best. Too often we compare ourselves to others and base our success on how well we measured up to our opponents. Wooden took a different approach and defined Competitive Greatness as
“A real love for the hard battle, knowing it offers the opportunity to be at your best when your best is needed.”
In other words, Competitive Greatness cannot be defined by winning, nor can it be denied by a loss. It is simply summoning our best when our best is needed.
From a Biblical perspective, we have the capacity to be our best because in Christ “we are more than conquerors” and we’re called to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Rom. 8:37, Eph. 6:10). God has set the stage for us: Christ has won, our strength flows from him, and God’s best for us is unlocked when we decide to be the best we can. When it comes to implementing Competitive Greatness into my life as Christ Follower and Christian athlete, here’s how to approach it:
Prepare well. Good preparation in any and every area of life is a key to becoming the best you can be.
Stay disciplined. God honors discipline and He uses it to shape us for what lies ahead.
Be your best. Every day is an opportunity to live life in full throttle and unleash our best.
Enjoy the process. God is at work in us and when He’s in charge the end result is always good.