How Can You Win, When You Lose?
Fifteen years ago I remember having brunch at Lucky Strike in Soho with my friend Cher Meli. She had been teaching yoga for many years and I was brand new to the practice. Cher offered some profound advice, “Always try to have faith and patience“. I have thought about her words hundreds of times since then, and each time these words have revealed something deeper and renewed my own faith and patience.
I played basketball in high school and my Dad, a 6’7” college basketball star, would coach me and often quote the famous Coach John Wooden. Between 8th Grade and my Senior year, Dad and I would wake up early 4 mornings a week so we would be at the front door of the YMCA right at the 5:25am opening, hours before school and hours before we had to compete for court time. For some reason John Wooden popped into my mind this morning and I googled him.
How funny is this pic?
John Wooden coached at UCLA and won 10 Championships in 12 years, he is in the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a coach and player, and he is an all around inspirational person. I found a TED Talk he gave and listened.
(Click the image above to listen to the TED talk)
Listening to his talk today was satisfying and awesome! In simple language, Coach was speaking about concepts from great yogic texts like the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. His talk was full of realizations and good ideas.
Good ideas are how we open our minds and transform our existence. Good ideas apply across every platform in life, and they are eternal truths. Around the 9 minute mark Coach pulls out his “Pyramid of Success” and tells the audience that at the very top of the pyramid are the two most important things, “faith and patience”. What?!!?
Cher and John Wooden literally said the exact same two words and even in the same order! I love when two totally diverse sources filter out the noise and drill down to the same conclusions. It points to something we can lean into and explore. Faith and patience, a wonderful combination, like chocolate and almonds, or tomatoes and bread.
A few years ago I had my own realization about what is needed to sustain and inspire a continued practice. I discovered the secret sauce that makes the path forward a little more easeful: Humility and sincerity, with a large side of gratitude.
Humility these days might seem uncool, but I have found it is actually freeing and helps me appreciate all that comes, good and bad. It helps me appreciate other people, especially those who I used to feel envy for. It helps me feel more in control of how I respond to things that would before illicit a fast and not so nice response. On good days, I might even “respond more skillfully”, as my teacher Carrie reminds us is one outcome of a dedicated practice.
Sincerity makes me feel like my life has true meaning and helps connect my actions to the true feelings in my heart. Authentic actions feel better. Happiness does not just come because of good circumstances, but from an understanding of the true nature of our soul, and a sincere desire to “wake up” to that true nature.
Gratitude helps us cultivate an inner joy that is 100 times greater than anything you put out. Dhanurdhara Swami explained to me that when you feel love for something, it puts you in a position to feel love from something. We all want to feel the love coming!
All of these things lead to the title of Coach’s talk, “You can win when you lose, you can lose even when you win.” Think about it!
PS. This was my birthday party at 14, I really loved basketball! Today that cake would be vegan : )