The characters of this story
Going his own way
Doing the work?
The attempt to leap to greatness
And the result...
The questioning
The answers
The past as "predictor"
The gift
The acknowledgement and the promise
Following the steps, without exception
The final promise
And he "became" that
The point of the story


Grant, a very, very physically capable and bright man-boy of 18 years of age, was determined to be a great football player. 

John, the coach of the football team was  an intense studier of what worked in football.  Quite naturally his study overlapped into the areas of mental discipline and focus, leading him into studying what worked that was practical in the Eastern disciplines and the discoveries in the West. 

John would often philosophize and attempt to give insights to the principles of life and of football  and, of course, what worked in terms of effectiveness.  


Grant listened to and respected his coach, but he had his own beliefs and ideas that he thought were better. 

He thought he could “shoot the curl” and go through the middle of the waves without having to obey the laws of physics.  (“Shooting the curl” is what a surfer does when he catches a wave and then scoots along to the side, crouching a bit to ride under the curve of the wave before it breaks, like shooting through a tunnel, but one with an eventual end in this case.)  

He had studied a lot and did know a lot of information, but he didn’t know that a little bit of it was slightly misunderstood and he lacked “wisdom”. 

He wanted to be an instant star, but he was, instead, frustrated, especially as he compared himself to some of this more experienced teammates. 

He wanted to “leap frog” over them and not have to go through all the hard work they did, and, in effect, “shoot the curl”.  


The coach, with his crew of assistant coaches, noticed Grant talked a good game but seemed at times not to be doing the work.  He was covering this up as much as he could and doing the minimum required to look like he was “with the program”. 

The coach emphasized over and over how it was important to repeat and practice the basics, until they  became so well practiced that they were automatic habits that could be accessed perfectly when needed. 

That made sense to Grant, but he also wanted to have things work more  quickly – and, unfortunately, he put more weight on what he wanted than the “good ideas” of the coach. 

He also had a few things he disagreed with the coach on, since he had studied other good coaches who thought differently than John did, so that those coaches ended up with some huge surprise successes that were immensely impressive.  However, he did not truly understand what was behind those successes, though he believed he did.  He mentioned the philosophies of those coaches once in a while to John, but he largely left a lot unsaid, making the coach "wrong". 

The unsaid festered a bit and served as a bit of an undercurrent to their relationship.  It took away from his "listening" to coach's advice and put him in a resistant mode that took up some of the energy that could be direccted to improving his performance.


Grant would get various teammates to help him on his strategies, a little bit at a time with each, but cumulatively adding to a lot of time.  And that time, for Grant, was taken away from his doing the basics.

He would practice the “long pass” and fantasize about how that was going to be the key to a huge come-from-behind victory for the team.  He did what the coach called “uber” endeavors.  "Uber" is a German term implying in this case  being the highest and/or greatest.   A person who tries to build a super body (as Grant also did) is engaging in “uber” striving, where the effort to go “uber” took time away from the effort to develop the basic skills that would have a much greater payoff than a few extra muscles.


He went into the first games wondering why he was pulled out of play after so few minutes.  He constantly urged the coach to put him in there to get the long pass to him.  But his basic skills were such that sometimes things didn’t work so well.  And he didn’t know what the dangers were of the long pass and why the long pass strategies were rarely used by experienced coaches.  He found himself resenting the coach of "not seeing it", that he was right. 

His frustration built up and his cooperativeness at times would go “out.”  He was put into the games less and less, until the last few games of the season he had only a total of five minutes in the game.   The next season was also not so hot, as he barely made the team. 


What was wrong, he asked.  Surely I am so talented and capable that I should be in there. 

But then he had huge doubts and felt quite inferior to those who were doing better than him but who had less raw talent (in his estimation and perception). 

Finally, he “hit bottom”, ready to quit if he did not succeed.  He got to the point of humility (forced) and finally asked the coach what was going on. 

John was happy to see Grant at last open to being coached and no longer stuck in “knowing better” than coach. 


“Grant, we need you to do what contributes the most to your total development. 

You want to skip to stardom without going through all the work and the limitations that define the path to success. 

You should know that it is a myth that people can have “overnight” success.  The story about the suddenly discovered actor is a great example, where he said ‘I worked hard at it for 14 years and lots and lots of failures, until, suddenly, I was an overnight success and a born genius.  That’s a real laugh!’

In life, Grant, the wise man learns  that  it is the basics that are the foundation for all success, the foundation needed to build on.  Without it, there is almost no chance of sustained success.  And, you'll have much greater success if you just listen to those who have already worked things out!  Learn from The Masters and you'll have a great life.”

Grant said “But, coach, I’ve done so badly the first two seasons.  I don’t really think that I can cut it.  The other guys are so much better.”


John replied:  “Part of what you say is true.  But the absolute fallacy part of that statement, one that many people believe, is that the past determines the future.

It is true that the past is a good predictor of the future, but only if you stay the same

But you have the choice to change who you are being and to upgrade your selection of what to do. 

Obviously, the past strategies that didn’t work have to be exposed for their ‘untruth’ and you’ve got to stop believing them.  At first, you may have to just accept that they might not be true, possibly, but try your very hardest to dispute them and correct them and to no longer believe them, as we want to clear them out of the way. 


I will give you what I’ve discovered and what I’ve spent hours learning, thinking about, and revising.  And, yes, I don’t know everything, but what I do know will save you a lot of errors and a lot of time trying to learn – and if you do them your progress will be methodically a little better and a little better until finally you’ll discover that you are an ‘overnight’ success.

“I’ve learned from the masters across the disciplines. 

I’ve learned that a true ‘student’ is one who is open to all that his Master can teach him, allowing his master not to be perfect and to sometimes be wrong (but with a “so what?” to it).  The true student never competes with the master and does what the master says, unless he can convince the master otherwise.  He does it without resistance, knowing that overall things will work out better. 

You’ve not been a student to this point, so you’ve not progressed as you could have. 

If you become a student extraordinaire at this point and are absolutely diligent and willing to fall on your face a few time, I guarantee you will get what you want in your football career.” 


Grant “got it” and could see where it could lead him.  He had a metaphorical “come to Jesus” (or Mohammed or Buddha) moment, where he saw the error of his ways and the results of those errors, but he truly was clear on what the path was. 

And his promise let John know that Grant would be willing to do what it takes to create “humble greatness”. 

Grant said:  “Coach.  I apologize for the times I’ve been a jerk, for the times I’ve resisted you and even made you wrong.  I was absolutely a jerk.  And I wasted your time.  And I can see that it is so incredibly valuable for me to learn greatness that I am willing to give up my stories that get in the way.  I know I conjured up a story about how great I had to be, kind of a fantasy, and how you wouldn’t understand.  I know I made up a story about practice being so hard that I just couldn’t do it, as that was not “me”.   That, indeed, was a bunch  of bull.  I see all that as excuses, trying to be right, trying to be better than others, a multitude of rackets I pulled and harmed myself and others with.    I know it is a story I told myself about not being able to be as good as the others.  I see now that I just didn’t want to be compared to them, so I escaped into unrealistically trying to be a superhero in other ways. 

I am humbled.  I will for the remaining two years be the absolute best student, though not perfect at times, that you’ll ever have.”


John: “That’s great, Grant.  That commitment is the absolute essential first ingredient to being successful and leaving behind your old beliefs.  Now, what I ask you to do is to follow all the steps I will be laying out for you, to do the practices diligently, until you get so good at the basics that they are absolutely automatic and built into you.  As a part of all of this, I ask that you stand tall and that you be the strongest supporter of your teammates’ success, stronger than anyone else on the team.   Just do what you can and let yourself fail, but give it your best.  Will you promise that?”

Grant: “I will do my absolute best, coach, with no excuses anymore.”

John:  “Besides the regular practice that all the others participate in, I’m asking you for two hours more, for extra learning, for extra refining, and, yes, extra practicing of what could be seen as boring.  Will you promise that?”

Grant: “Absolutely.  I commit absolutely.”


John: "And, finally, Grant, there is one final promise I want you to make, one final lesson I want you to commit to, even when you don't 'feel' like it and want to return to being small and hoping for 'rescue'.    You'll have to 'let go' of something you've depended on for your whole life.

Perhaps the greatest lesson you’ll learn, that which the Masters sought to teach their disciples, is to take all the power into yourself and into your center, so that you need depend on no one.  Beyond tapping into my knowledge, you will no longer need me, for you will become your own coach, not waiting for it from the outside.  You’ll become your own cheerleader.  And, finally, you’ll find yourself being a leader of man. 

This I promise you if you’ll follow the lessons and the path."

Grant, with a soft but powerful voice:  "Yes, that is a promise I vow to absolutely keep, even when I falter.  I will catch myself and I will create anew all that I can be.  I can see that this is, indeed, absolutely the greatest gift I can give to myself."


Grant became that student as a “way of being”, feeling an intensity as he walked the earth, an intensity of commitment to a higher level of living, feeling a true respect for himself. 

Junior year was a tough one for Grant, full of lots of work, but slow progress.  However, there was a surprise side effect: a great deal of his value showed up in his supporting others on the team.  He also learned to cooperate with others, humbly, for the success of all involved.  At times, he also played pretty well.

Over the summer break he continued without letdown, coming into the first game as a newly strong player, but not as a star.  But his combined statistics, with his assisting others, looked great, though nothing stood out - until later in the season. 

By the end of the season, he was voted the most valuable player in the bowl game and for the year – and was elected honorary Captain Of The Team for the rest of his life. 

And then he was drafted in the first round of the Pros.  He went on to play great football, to honor his coach and all that "coach" taught him. 

And when he had  to leave football due to an injury, he applied the same principles to becoming a very respected businessperson and a compassionate wise family man, living a life beyond his dreams. 


There are so many people who try to take the shortcuts and to go around the effort and hard work that it takes to succeed.  But what they are missing is that it is actually less total effort to learn the principles and to practice the basics – and to  achieve a success in life uncommon to man, with grace, ease, a sense of peace, and a great sense of mastery over life.  There is no greater value than mastery over life – for it is with that that one can create all the happiness, life satisfaction, and fulfillment that one could ever want.  Life can be seemingly miraculously lived as a beautiful experience. 

May you look at where you are and where you would like  to be  and then commit to, and do what it takes, to build the foundation and then a magnificent edifice upon it, a life truly worth living.

Note:  This is pretty close to the actual story, though I’ve taken the liberty of creating the dialogue around it, based on how it was related to me.  I’m sure it represents the true essence of what occurred.   The names have been changed, though I can say that both of them are thriving and well and very active in life.