Service and success go together

Something very important happened a few weeks ago, almost without notice that — as Richard Sherman says — goes much further than football.

In response to Richard Sherman’s alleged rant, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times wrote an article about Coach Pete Carroll’s response. In the article he wrote:

Carroll said he talked to Sherman on Monday, and that Sherman “didn’t feel right” about the way he presented himself and for taking away from the teams performance.

“I told them this weekend, we don’t let them be themselves, we celebrate them being themselves, and we cheerlead for them to be themselves,” Carroll said. “And we try to bring out the very best that they have to offer…”

This excerpt from Coach Carroll’s larger comment reveals him to be a disciple of Coach John Wooden, who is often quoted as saying, “True success can be attained only…in knowing that you did everything within the limits of your ability to become the very best that you are capable of becoming.”

Many people do not realize that this is the true secret of success. When Coach Carroll emphasizes this, in his efforts to help Richard Sherman become a better person, he is articulating a view of life that has crucial importance beyond football for every single individual.

I am a Snohomish County Superior Court judge. There are many superior court judges throughout our state. Everyday, in our jobs, we deal with the tragic results of our failure, as a society, to teach these ideas. Over and over, we fail to encourage, “celebrate,” and “cheerlead” for our kids to understand, in their lives, the need to strive to become their best selves.

Coaches Carroll and Wooden apply this life view in the context of competitive sports. However, we all need growth, progress, and success. And many of us fear that success is achievable only through some sort of competitive struggle, compelled by a competitive world. But there is another way.

Success can be achieved through service. And my new book, “The Tao of Public Service: A Memoir on Seeking True Purpose,” clearly illustrates this path, illuminating a way to succeed for all, based on becoming your best self.

When Coach Carroll counseled Richard Sherman that he wanted him to “present himself in the best light,” this is actually something that goes beyond football and beyond competition. This is actually the point of and opportunity for service: A point where Richard Sherman can begin to tell his truth, and live his life in a wider context, in service to others, and not just in service to himself. And we really can’t afford to miss this point.

One goal of my new book is to better explain and promote this view of life. For I too am a John Wooden disciple, and I devote a book section to his Pyramid of Success. However, what I also seek to share is how this life view can be applied outside of the context of sports: for every person, in every situation. Because every single person is significant. No one is a throwaway.

Like Richard Sherman, every single person, at some point, cries out for significance. John Wooden’s secret of success can be used to win basketball games or football games. However, this secret of success, becoming your best self, can also be the key to so much more.

Eric Lucas is a Snohomish County Superior Court judge

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