Tag Archives: The Secret Of Success

Dave Grohl’s Advice For Coaches

I have written before of my appreciation for the eternal wisdom of Dave Grohl. Indeed my life motto is ‘Everyone should love something as much as Dave Grohl loves music’. What I did not know was that Dave actually prepared a list of the 10 most important pieces of advice for coaching*.  I can’t put it any better than him.

1. You Have to Be Great
“If you’re good at what you do, people will recognize that. I really believe it.

2. Figure It Out
“If you’re focused and passionate and driven, you can achieve anything you want in life. I honestly believe that. Because you’ll fuckin’ figure it out.”

3. Chase Your Dreams

4. Don’t Lose Your Personality

5. Experiment

6. Do Your Own Thing
“The most important thing is that whatever you’re doing, it’s a representation of your voice. Whatever it is, the most important thing is that it’s your voice, that it’s coming from you.”

7. Find Balance

8. Just Do It
“There should be no right or wrong. You should be cool with what you do…”

9. Cherish Your Voice
“It’s your voice. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it’s fucking gone. Because everyone is blessed with at least that, and who knows how long it will last.”

10. Love What You Do
“People can talk about the good ol’ days. Well, fuck that, man. This is fuckin’ great! I don’t know how to do anything else. This is it.”


  • He didn’t really. Someone else pieced together a list of 10 important things for success from different interviews he has done and I have (slightly) edited it for coaching.  The article is here and the original video is below.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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The Secret Of Success – Readiness And Recognition

“The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” Benjamin Disraeli

In every set, in every match, there is at least one moment in which either side can win.  The team that seizes that moment is the team that wins.  Often neither team seizes the moment and the game meanders along until the next moment arrives.  Often one team has only one moment, and once it is gone, it is gone.  In that case, it is often the team either not recognising the moment or not being prepared to take advantage of it.

The secret of success is simple… prepare, prepare, prepare and recognise the moment when it arrives.

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Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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‘Life After The Secret’

I have referenced and quoted the works of Bill Simmons many times now over the last couple of years.  specifically I have referenced his opus, ‘The Book of Basketball‘ numerous times, most recently in a post outlining the secret of success in basketball, as revealed to Simmons by Isiah Thomas.  As we recall, ‘the secret of basketball is that it’s not about basketball’.

I wrote in my original post that two chapters (Chapter One – ‘The Secret’ and Epilogue – ‘Life After The Secret’) should be published together and sold as a coaching resource.  The second of those chapters is a visit and discussion with Bill Walton, another alltime great basketball player and another whose reputation included comments like ‘made his teammates better’ and ‘understood the game in a different way from others’.  When Simmons told him Isiah Thomas’ theory, his response was another elegant and perfect description.

“It’s not a secret as much as a choice.  Look at the forces fighting against that choice.  Look at the forces pushing you to make the other choice, the wrong choice.  It’s all about you.  It’s all about material acquisitions, physical gratification, stats and highlights.  Everywhere you go, you’re bombarded with the opposite message of what really matters.  And you wouldn’t even know otherwise unless you played with the right player or the right coach: the Woodens, the Auerbachs, the Ramseys, the Russells, the Birds.  How many people get that lucky?  Kobe was blessed to have Phil (Jackson) and eventually realised that.  With a truly great coach, it’s not about a diagram, it’s not about a play, it’s not about practice, it’s the course of time over history.  It’s the impact a coach has on the lives around him.  That’s what Phil done for Kobe.  This history of life is that most people figure it out.  Most of the time it’s too late.  That’s the real frustrating part – the squandered opportunities that you can’t get back.”

And there it is.  The secret is not a secret, it’s a choice, and most people ignore it until it’s too late. It’s always a choice…

‘The Secret’

Bill Simmons loves basketball, specifically the NBA.  He also loves to write.  When you put those two things together, you end up with an exhaustively researched, incredibly informative, wildly entertaining 700 page book on the NBA, ‘The Book Of Basketball’. The overarching theme of the book is what he calls ‘The Secret’.  ‘The Secret’ is apparently the secret of sucess in the NBA, by extension basketball (and by further extension) all team sports, and was revealed to him by Detroit Pistons legend, Isiah Thomas.

“The secret of basketball is that it’s not about basketball.”

That’s it.  A 700 page book boiled down to its essence.  “The secret of basketball is that it’s not about basketball.”  There are two incredible chapters of the book that address the issue directly… Chapter One – ‘The Secret’ and Epilogue – ‘Life After The Secret’.  In fact if those two chapters could be packaged together I would recommend them as required reading for every team sport coach (and everyone who loves good writing about basketball).  There are so many bits and pieces that I could quote that I really don’t know where to start.  So I will just cut and paste a series of quotes from Bill Russell and Bill Bradley.

Russell: “By design and by talent the Celtics were a team of specialists, and like a team of specialists in any field, our performance depended on individual excellence and how well we worked together. None of us had to strain to understand that we had to complement each other’s specialties; it was simply a fact, and we all tried to figure out ways to make our combination more effective… the Celtics played together because we knew it was the best way to win.”

Bradley: “A team championship exposes the limits of self-reliance, selfishness and irresponsibility. One man alone can’t make it happen; in fact, the contrary is true: a single man can prevent it from happening. The success of the group assures the success of the individual, but not the other way around. Yet this team is an inept model, for even as people marvel at its unselfishness and skill involved, they disagree on how it is achieved and who is the most instrumental. The human closeness of a basketball team cannot be reconstructed on a larger scale.”

Russell: “Star players have an enormous responsibility beyond their statistics—the responsibility to pick their team up and carry it. You have to do this to win championships—and to be ready to do it when you’d rather be a thousand other places. You have to say and do the things that make your opponents play worse and your teammates play better. I always thought that the most important measure of how good a game I’d played was how much better I’d made my teammates play.”

Bradley: ” I believe that basketball, when a certain level of unselfish team play is realized, can serve as a kind of metaphor for ultimate cooperation. It is a sport where success, as symbolized by the championship, requires that the dictates of the community prevail over selfish personal impulses. An exceptional player is simply one point on a five-pointed star. Statistics—such as points, rebounds, or assists per game—can never explain the remarkable interaction that takes place on a successful pro team.”

For the record, I happen to believe that volleyball is an even greater team game than basketball.

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Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Jerry Seinfeld’s Secret Of Success

I love it when I’m right! ‘Success’ really is going to be an ongoing series

This time it is Daniel Coyle’s blog who provided the story of one person’s pursuit of excellence in his own field.  In an original article in the New York Times, Jerry Seinfeld provides some of the secrets of his success.  He tells of the work the goes into writing a good joke and Coyle distills his lessons into four main guidelines (in italics are my comments).

1) Embrace revision and repetition. That is, practice.
2) Be creative and ruthless in self-testing. That is, feedback.
3)  Learn from parallel crafts.  That is, learn continually.
4) Be obsessively, monkishly habitual about methods and tools. That is, control your practice environment.

So if I wanted to distill Daniel Coyle’s interpretation of Jerry Seinfeld’s Secret of Success, I would say it comes down to practice, feedback, education and practice.

The following video is cool, even if you don’t have time to read either of the orginal links.

Jiro’s Secret Of Success

Apparently success is going to be an ongoing series…

Every so often I have a look at Daniel Pink‘s blog.  A couple of weeks ago I was rewarded by a story about an 85 year old Japanese sushi master, Jiro Ono.  By all accounts he is the greatest sushi chef in the world, and his 10 seat ‘restaurant’ has been rewarded with three Michelin stars (which by definition means that it is worth travelling to that country only to eat at the restaurant).  Pink reviews a documentary made about Jiro describing it as ‘the best 82 minute film on mastery I have ever seen’.  Now I can’t judge whether it is indeed the best such film Daniel Pink has ever seen, but I can now say it is the best I have ever seen.  The movie is called ‘Jiro Dreams Of Sushi‘ and it is a wonderful examination of the pursuit of excellence, and a great film about sushi.

My highlight…

Once you decide on your occupation…
you must immerse yourself in your work.
You have to fall in love with your work.
Never complain about your job.
You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill.
That’s the secret of success…
and is the key to being regarded honorably.

The Secret Of Success

I am asked every now and again by journalists or others what is the secret of success, or something similar.  My initial response is always enormously unsatisfactory to the questioner.

“It’s not a secret.”

I know it’s unsatisfactory from the look of confusion on his[1] face.  I go on to explain as clearly as possible what the secret to success is.

“You set a high goal, and you work really hard towards it.”

The look of confusion is gone, but it’s not replaced by one of satisfaction.  After all, if you’re looking for a secret, nobody wants to hear about hard work.  A secret is supposed to be instead of hard work.

However, the most recent time the question was asked of me, prompted me to consider it a little more deeply.  Upon reflection I may have been too simplistic in my response, or possibly even wrong.

Goals are important, and goal oriented hard work[2] is a given, but the first component of success is vision.  Not in the sense of a metaphysical experience, although that can undoubtedly help, but in the sense of the ability to see something that doesn’t exist yet.  The common feature of all successful (loosely defined) people I’ve studied is that they have an overarching vision; an extremely broad, yet incredibly detailed vision.

The secret is vision.  Once you have a vision, goals make themselves and every action provides simple and unequivocal feedback… You’re either closer to Oz or not.

I’m not sure what look that answer will get me from a journalist though.


[1] not that a woman wouldn’t ask this question, one just hasn’t asked it of me, yet.

[2] Dare I say 10,000 hours of it…