I recently came across a PowerPoint presentation delivered by Kim Le that highlighted some unique qualities of greatness in a piece entitled Values, Victory, and Peace of Mind. After thorough examination of the meaning of success and leadership in previous blogs, I felt this message to be particularly intriguing. It presents the apex of a success pyramid as “competitive greatness” with qualities such as team spirit, skill, and enthusiasm acting as the building blocks leading to the top.

Coach John Wooden, the UCLA basketball head coach nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood”, is credited for his vision of this “Pyramid of Success”, as referenced in Kim Le’s presentation. Wooden was renowned for his short, simple inspirational messages to his players. These were often directed at how to be a success in life as well as in basketball. He said, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

So, what is Competitive Greatness? It is the ability to function best when it is needed most. It is a quiet confidence when approaching being the best you can be on a daily basis. It is epitomizing the elevated few in the quote “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. It is in the knowledge, felt viscerally, that the only way to achieve real success is to love the challenges you face, to embrace the daily battle, and to understand that only by facing a fire and walking through it can a real leader be forged.