Planning for A Winning Season

Jerry Walls

As I write this, it's football season here in the state of Kentucky. In most places that goes without saying come fall. But in the Bluegrass state it's usually basketball season year around. But things began to change recently, thanks largely to a Heisman candidate quarterback who plays at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. The quarterback, Tim Couch, comes from Hyden, a town of 350 in Eastern Kentucky. Last season, Couch re-wrote the Kentucky record book and and also broke several Southeastern Conference records. And bigger stuff is expected this season.

I was intrigued recently by an article on Couch in a special College Football section in USA TODAY. The article interested me especially as an illustration of the universal nature of the conditions of success. In his book True Success, Tom Morris emphasizes that the conditions of success are essentially the same for all persons in all situations. The story about Couch suggests several of the seven conditions for true success which Morris identifies, but the first two of these are epecially prominent.

The first condition is having a clear conception of what we want, a clearly imagined goal. Couch's instinctive mastery of this condition is demonstrated by what he did as an eighth grader. He wrote down over twenty goals for high school and taped them inside a box on which he wrote "Do not open until my Senior year." He achieved nearly every goal he aimed at and finished his prep career with more touchdown passes and more passing yardage than anyone else in the history of high school football.

Goal number 10 is particularly remarkable for an eighth grader and also illustrates the second condition for true success, namely, a strong confidence that we can attain our goals. Couch put down as goal number 10: "I want to accomplish everything that people say I can't". In taking this attitude, the young quarterback demonstrated that he had a firm grip on more than the football. He also displayed what Harvard philosopher William James called "precursive faith," faith which literally runs ahead of the evidence. Goals are by definition things we have not yet achieved. For some, that is reason to believe that we cannot attain them. This is especially so if the goals involve things which no one has ever done, like passing for more touchdowns than anyone in the history of your sport. The precocious passer was wise enough to recognize that he would have to believe in the face of doubters who thought his goals were unreachable. His faith ran ahead of the evidence quite a way but this is a major reason why the evidence caught up years later. There is a lot more to success than knowing clearly where you want to go and believing strongly that you can get there. But these conditions represent essential starting points whether your game is football or academics or business.

I just wonder whether Tim taped anything in a box and marked it: "Do not open until until my Senior year of College." Whether he did or not, you can bet his goals are clearly defined and no record book is safe as long as he is around.


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