Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1862), whose famous philosophical essays have had a great influence on me. Read his essay on Compensation and get back to me about it!

The great players all had some weakness, some defect. They even had bad games. The great coaches who have won national championships and are legends in the game have had bad teams and bad games.

Losing certainly begets more losing, just as winning seemingly begets more winning. However, losing can often cause a player or coach to work harder, to concentrate more, to decide that now is the time to really get after it. And conversely, winning can make you soft, let you not practice as much, let your pride make you susceptible to becoming soft.

Everyone has weaknesses and defects – as no man has ever a point of pride that was not injurious to him, so no man had ever a defect that was not somewhere made useful to him.”
– “Compensation” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson told the fable of the stag who admired his horns to the point of extreme pride and blamed his hooves for being so ugly. When the hunter came, the hooves that he despised saved him, but soon after, he was destroyed by his beautiful horns when they got caught in the thicket.

Compensation. Yin and yang. For every positive there is a negative and vice versa. Balance. So important, yet so hard to achieve. 

Create-a-Quote: Make Emerson Your Own

Take the following quotes from Emerson’s essay “Compensation.” Rewrite each of them to fit your life, your game, your particular situation. Here is an example:

Emerson: “The wise man throws himself on the side of his assailants. It is more his interest than it is theirs to find his weak points.”

Coach B: “It is a wise coach who scouts the other teams and also has someone who scouts his own team. Find your strengths and weaknesses and prepare accordingly for the games. Work on your strengths and correct your weaknesses – you will fear no opponent.”

Now it’s your turn. Choose one of these quotes and rewrite it to fit you:

“Every man in his lifetime needs to thank his faults.”

Our strength grows out of our weaknesses.”

A great man is always willing to be little. Whilst he sits on the cushion of advantages, he goes to sleep.”

Most must be cured of the insanity of conceit.”

The wise man throws himself on the side of his assailants.”

I really want to hear your ideas on this. 

The Teeter-Totter of Life

Can you work too hard?

Can you work too little?

Can you practice too much?

Can you practice too little?

Can you love too much?

Can you love too little?

Finding that balance point in everything can be the difference in how happy you are in life. It may not be good to err too much on either side. 

The real head coach and I spent most of our weekend wrapping gifts for underprivileged children. Maybe in giving love and sharing your gifts there is never overdoing!

Besop’s Thought
Most of you know by now that I love Aesop’s Fables. As a result, I developed Besop’s Thoughts as they relate to basketball.

The Insight – Our team has not been playing well. I feel the pressure and as a result I demand, I push and I expect too much from the players and myself. I find it easy to play the blame game. I’m convinced I’m not a very good coach and the players are not very good either. I feel the pressure choke the life out of me.

The Pep Talk – If your team doesn’t play well and is not meeting your expectations, it is certainly not a good idea to play the blame game. If you plant corn and it doesn’t grow, blaming the corn will not help. Get busy: learn as much as you can about corn and crop-growing and soil preparation so that you’ll have a better chance next time.

You will be compensated in life for the good that you do.

Happy holidays from the Coach & the Real Head Coach

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Images – © Georgios Kollidas – Fotolia.com (Emerson); © tiero – Fotolia.com (Newton Cradle)