Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thanks Coach!

A review of Coach Wooden by Pat Williams.

Last October I was fortunate enough to hear Pat Williams address the student body of Liberty University on the “7 Sides of Leadership”. This made the decision easy when I learned he had authored this work on the leadership principles of Coach John Wooden, one of America’s most successful college coaches, having led UCLA to 88 consecutive wins, ten NCAA championships, and 38 consecutive NCAA tournament victories before his retirement in 1975. He coached many players who later played in the NBA. While I expected this book to be a refresher of Williams’ speech, even with the overlapping concepts, I was left with the challenge of implementing additional disciplines in my life. Williams’ 7 Sides of Leadership were to:

  1. Have a VISION
  2. Communicate your VISION
  3. Possess People Skills
  4. Understand that Character counts
  5. Have Competence
  6. Possess Boldness
  7. Lead with A Serving Heart

Williams writes about the great influence Wooden had on all those around him, making it clear that his list was directly influenced by Wooden’s 7 life-shaping principles:

  1. Be True To Yourself
  2. Help Others
  3. Make Each Day Your Masterpiece
  4. Drink Deeply from Good Books, Especially the Bible
  5. Make Friendship a Fine Art
  6. Build a Shelter against a Rainy Day by the Life You Life
  7. Pray for Guidance and Counsel, and Give Thanks for Your Blessings Each Day

My favorite of the seven is to “make each day your masterpiece”. While working in radio, I used to have a co-worker who would close each newscast with “make it a great day”. It sounded odd to me years ago, but now I get it. It means ‘make each day your masterpiece’. Don’t just passively ‘have a great day’ but understand that the quality of your day depends on you, it’s something you initiate.

Another most impressive take-away from Wooden is his relationship with his father, who is referenced at least 100 times in the book. Once Wooden was asked how he would like to be remembered at the end of his life and he answered without the slightest hesitation, “I would like to be remembered as a man who came as close as possible to being like my father.” What an amazing legacy.

This easy-read will both challenge and inspire you, sports fan or not. I highly recommend it and leave you with some additional Woodenisms:

  • The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.
  • Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.
  • Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.
  • It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.
  • Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Christian "Twilight"

I grew up watching Barnabas Collins on "Dark Shadows" so I have nothing against a good vampire story. In fact I enjoy them. However, mostly due to the hype, I have not seen the Twilight series. Still, while reading "Tandem" I could not help but tie its theme to the popularity of those books/movies. The problem I had with the book was that it jumped around a lot which made it challenging to follow. Once the reader learns that and presses on, the reading is enjoyable.

The story takes place in a small town in the south with murders and the apparent death of the killer in a house fire. Lauryn, who runs a family auction house, is busy caring for her father suffering from Alzheimer's disease. When Amede, a vampire alive for hundreds of years, receives a package from Lauryn, she hopes it will help her find her long long and estranged sister Eden. Thus, her visit to Abby Hills where these murders and animal deaths are taking place.

Vampires who are considerate of other humans and shy away from feeding on their blood? Vampires with morals? Well, sort of. If you're expecting Christian vampires or a clear presentation of the 'good news' however, the closest you'll come is in the final pages where this dialogue takes place:

*Amede (the vampire) gathered a breath and held her book close to her chest.

"There has to be something more. My father believed that something more was God."

"What do you think?" Lauryn's voice held no mockery and Amede could see she was listening.

"Think? You mean do I think reformed vampires get to go to heaven?"

She shrugged. "Maybe. Perhaps it's time to put Thomas Aquinas's theory into action. Better to believe in a redemption and go in that direction -- and by that I mean stop drinking even animal blood and let myself die like my fahter -- than to not believe and find out in the end after it's too late for forgiveness."

Lauryn observed her silently. "I truly hope you find what you're looking for, Amede."*

Certainly this book is an interesting concept, but the style of writing was not among my favorites. Albeit may be an unfair comparison, but if I want to read Christian-based fantasy I will still prefer C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien.


"Tandem" was written by Tracey Bateman, 320 pages, published by WaterBrook Press, released October 5, 2010. ISBN-10: 0307457176, ISBN-13: 978-0307457172.