Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

What is success?

One of my favourite coaches of all time, John Wooden, spoke of how “success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming”.

But how do we measure this success and how do we know what our best is?

I ask this question following a conversation I had with the coaching staff on the Northern Ireland U19s team.


What is success for the young players we are coaching? Is it getting a professional contract? Is it getting a professional contract for a English Premiership team? Getting their first full international cap or making a part time career in the Irish league?

Each one of these is a success if the player in question achieved this by reaching their full potential.

Success for me in coaching these young men is sharing my experiences to help them realise and unleash their potential. Sharing lessons from what I have learnt, where I have been successful and most importantly when I have failed. I always tell them that I would get great satisfaction going to watch these young men play at the highest level or meet them on the street happy with whatever path they choose.

With this in mind, success is up to each individual. The problem occurs when we set unrealistic goals. We can set goals too low or too high. One person’s success could be another person’s failure and vice versa.

Once you have determined what success is to you and you have achieved it (this could be signing a full time football contract or losing two stone), you ask – what next?

Do you just think ‘that’s me, I can sit back and reap the rewards’. If we did this, I think we all know the answer.

Maybe instead we should look at success as a continuous journey. Like you are on a ferocious unfinished path that always requires more, picking up small wins along the way. We still need to celebrate these small wins but don’t get caught up in them. In order to do this, we must keep doing what got us to our small wins.


Here are a few principles that can help keep you on this path.

Passion is the foundation for success. It’s the fuel that will keep the fire burning inside you. You must have a burning desire to do what you love and keep doing it every day.

You can have all the passion in the world but you must also put in the work. Success doesn’t come easy. If it did then everyone would be able to sit back and reap the rewards.

This is an area I am really working hard on. But working hard isn’t enough, you must also focus solely on the task at hand.

You may have to give up a lot to be successful. If it’s something you truly want, then other things will have to take a back seat or become less important. You don’t have to do it in a way which will hurt yourself or others. Be open with those closest to you about what you are aiming towards. They don’t have to agree with you, but let them know you would appreciate their support and understanding.

Don’t be stuck in your old ways all the time. Be self critical and look at areas where you can improve. What are your strengths and weakness? If you don’t know ask other people around you, they’ll soon tell you where they think you are going wrong.

You’ll always need fresh and new ideas as the path towards success is ever changing.

You’ll stumble many times along the way but don’t give up. If you have everything else in place then keep going, push past those barriers and keep moving forward.

Have faith in your own ability. Self doubt will creep in from time to time. If you have everything else in place, then you must believe and keep moving forward.

The key thing to remember is that success is never-ending, and that’s not to put you off. You should enjoy the journey, celebrate the good and learn from the bad.

It’s not about what we have done, instead it’s about knowing that we still have more to do.

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