It’s Up to You

Matt C. White

EVERY LEGITIMATE short list of history’s greatest basketball coaches includes Pat Summitt and John Wooden. I’m not even going to attempt to recount their myriad successes. Instead, I want to discuss why they were successful.

Many of the best to ever play basketball went to the University of Tennessee and to the University of California, Los Angeles, to work with these legendary coaches. When players like Candace Parker and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) stepped onto the floor, they contributed their talent and athleticism to their coach’s success. They’re great basketball players—blessed with a God-given gift that players don’t come by any other way.

Summitt and Wooden taught them how to find their place on the team, build productive habits, and embrace a lifestyle of diligence and hard work—helping them realize the glory of their grace-supplied greatness.

On the other hand, the tactics and strategy supplied by their coaches were—I’d argue—just the cherry on top. Make no mistake: Summitt and Wooden knew how to teach offensive and defensive sets, and they could draw up the right play for pivotal moments. By no means was strategy irrelevant.

Still, strategy alone wouldn’t have won championships without players like Parker and Abdul-Jabbar. As long as players of that caliber have a reasonable working knowledge of the game, that’ll do. Give me a Candace or Kareem-led team, playing with any offensive or defensive strategy in the book, and I’d bet on their success.

It’s the same with money. Strategy is an integral part of success, but strategy doesn’t cause success. Is strategy important? Yes. Is it interesting? Yes. Learn it. Study it. Craft it. Have fun debating it. But keep it in perspective. Stop asking it to give you financial freedom. It won’t—because it can’t.

Strategy is one section of the playbook, but you won’t achieve financial freedom if you neglect the others: the emotional, psychological and spiritual factors. What you know is important, but who you are matters more. I’m talking about whether you can control your spending, how you react to market turmoil—and the values that motivate you.

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