The Bobby Knight Principle

“Even the person whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object; and how much more so he who would realize a strong and well-poised life” — As A Man Thinketh

Whether you like Bobby Knight or not, you have to respect his ability to produce championship teams. One of his winning principles is one I have come to embrace: “The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.”

For all of my life I’ve had the will to succeed. Like most people, I’ve always wanted to stand in the winner’s circle — to win the championship — to wear the gold medal. But for a good part of my life I never fully understood that champions aren’t made on the day of the game. That’s simply the day the world recognizes all of the preparation that took place before that day arrived.

It has taken me many years to learn that none of the “big” things I’ve done have helped me to succeed. Instead, it’s all of the little things that I did over and over. For example, the discipline to plan each day’s work the night before, no matter how tired I was, has had more to do with my success than any “big” thing I’ve ever done. Not a “big” thing, but a necessary thing in getting prepared to win.

The adoring crowds and television cameras aren’t around when Champions are made. They’re made in the early morning hours when the rest of the world is sleeping just a little bit longer; in the late evening hours when fatigue has overtaken the average person and sent them to bed. In thousands and thousands of little ways that they discipline themselves to do the things that everyone could do, but most people won’t do. As one of my heroes, Muhammad Ali, said, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

And that’s worth thinking about.

2 thoughts on “The Bobby Knight Principle”

  1. Bobby Knight is absolutely hilarious. I love that guy.

    “I hope when I die, they bury me upside down. So all my critics can kiss my ass.” – Bobby Knight.


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