Why It’s So Important to Put Your Socks On the Right Way

A leadership lesson from one of the game’s greatest coaches.

Photo by Sean Benesh on Unsplash

Success in life is as much about eliminating mistakes as it is creating opportunities. This is true in the world of sports, business, art, and how we handle our everyday affairs.

Ingenuity and creativity will spur us on to a lifetime of freedom and happiness. They will give us the liberty to explore our humanity and to give life to new opportunities. We should always explore ways to expand our imaginations and learn new things. We should take advantage of and pursue any chance to grow, personally, and professionally every day.

Likewise, we should be shrewd in determining ways to not hide our weaknesses but remedy them. In the personal development time that we should all allocate to our days and weeks, it’s how we determine to spend this time that will go a long way toward how we build our character.

Self-examination, coupled with constructive feedback from others, will give us the tools that we need to analyze and figure out what things we need to fix. What are the “turnovers” of life that we’ve committed that we must correct in order to get better and reach our potential? What things are we doing poorly or not well, that we need to get rid of or improve?

It’s not just about our output. It’s about reducing bad output to have a better overall final score.

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one’s watching.” — Coach John Wooden

A Story to Tell

Coach John Wooden famously taught all of his players how to put their socks and shoes on at the beginning of every basketball season. This was at UCLA, a school that was winning the college basketball national championship nearly every season! First off, Wooden understood that the fundamentals of the game were so important. Why not start at a very basic level?

But even more pertinent, he was trying to give them every advantage that he could. He was attempting to reduce their mistakes. The silly often overlooked turnovers that can detract from our overall performance.

Think about it — you may deliver a fantastic presentation at work.

But what if you follow that presentation by not preparing for the next assignment that comes your way? Then next time — your effort is poor. All of a sudden, after raising the bar high, you’ve lowered things back down and lost that goodwill.

That trust and praise you earned all of a sudden need to be weighed against a bad performance, one where your boss may start to question your whole package of output.

You may write an excellent article.

But what if you don’t begin again? Or when you do, what if you don’t put your best effort into it, thinking you can simply skate by on past performance?

You may ace one of your exams.

But if you don’t study for the next one, or if you do a rush-job of cramming at the last minute and get a D, then what? You “turned the ball over” and you’re back at average.

Your character and your ability to apply yourself with consistency are inextricably linked. Great leaders and performers are consistently great. This begins with a positive, growth mindset and is backed-up by a hard, intelligent work ethic. It’s not a sometimes thing. It’s an ALL the time thing.

It happens in the workplace. It happens at home. It’s an all the time thing when you’re dealing with friends or in public at events. And perhaps most significantly, it’s the way you behave and act when you’re the only one who’s watching.

That person you look at in the mirror. They’re going to want to know whether you held yourself accountable and to a higher standard of conduct and performance.

When you can honestly and truthfully say that you’ve done your best, that you’ve given your all, and that you’ve consciously made the effort to eliminate the negatives that hold you back, you’ll know you’re on the journey to greatness.

Just remember to put your socks on the right way. Every detail matters.

Join my newsletter for emotional intelligence and productivity content!

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

Christopher D. Connors

Written by

Author, Executive Coach & Emotional Intelligence Speaker; Seen on Fox, ABC, CNBC, etc.; http://chrisdconnors.com

Mind Cafe

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

Christopher D. Connors

Written by

Author, Executive Coach & Emotional Intelligence Speaker; Seen on Fox, ABC, CNBC, etc.; http://chrisdconnors.com

Mind Cafe

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store