music holds a memory like a flower cradles its seed the way one beat takes me back to a timeline the way the song title alone takes me back to a version of you a playlist for every mood a playlist for every chapter of my life relationships in their every wave competing in all the different ways it has defined me living as all the pieces of me finding each other when failing felt like pain instead of progress and when I look back through every playlist memories fold on top of each other words blend from my experiences to her lyrics then the present hits me and there’s a weird realization of sitting in my now could I make a song from 2017 new again? could I change the way a memory sticks? as the chorus becomes a crescendo a voice asks, “do you need it to change?” if there’s beauty in who you are now why would the past ever need to change?
The Pyramid of Success by Coach John Wooden is a sacred piece in my journey. My parents raised my brother and I through this pyramid of success. These lessons and fundamentals of character were engrained in us at a very very young age and I am so eternally grateful. These blocks and this pyramid is my foundation and one of the most pivotal parts of my journey. I was always taught to do my personal best in everything I do and my parents are the best role models I could ever ask for. Big shout out to my parents, thank you for everything, Mom and Dad!!!!
In all that I do, in every moment on my journey and and through all endeavors, I always find myself leaning back on this pyramid of success. It connects to every aspect of life and to the Universe; I feel so lucky to have been blessed by it at such a young age. Again, thank you Mom and Dad!!
Let’s Go Block By Block!!!
1 – Hard Work and Enthusiasm
These are the cornerstones of this pyramid of success, they are the cornerstones to character. I’m combining them now, because that’s how it was always taught to me. Hard Work and Enthusiasm go together; you can’t work hard well without being enthusiastic and enthusiasm is always more real with hard work behind it. You’ll notice under the Hard Work block on the pyramid that it says “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.” This quote has always been a big part in my life. It is so powerfully true but deeply simple. For me, hard work has always been so rewarding and through it, I gained fierce discipline. Discipline and hard work is my comfort zone, but learning to be enthusiastic in all moments of life was my challenge. True enthusiasm is such an electric feeling, it’s the zone we all know so well and it’s the adrenaline I thrive on. So, together, hard work and enthusiasm make an immortal team.
2 – Friendship and Loyalty
When I was learning this pyramid of success, my parents always put big emphasis on the blocks on the first row because they are the foundation to true character, to personal best and to success. So, when I think back on those intrinsic memories of how they were taught to me, I realize a few of them were taught to me as a team. My parents are geniuses for doing it that way because I now see how much more powerful they became. I realized the importance of hard work and enthusiasm only when they were put together, and same thing with friendship and loyalty. Loyalty was one of the trickiest blocks for me to learn, but, with friendship added to it, loyalty’s meaning became easier for me to define. And friendship, boy have I learned a lot with that one over the years. I remember as a kid thinking it was the “easiest” one; I see how wrong I was now! Loyalty has grown into loyalty to my soul over the years and that is such a special and powerful thing, it’s freedom! And friendship has become more and more about being friends with my soul and my being, because you can’t be a loyal friend to others without being a loyal friend to yourself first.
3 – Cooperation
In my family, we’ve always been a team. So, cooperation was taught to me within the family first, Always. And through tennis experiences, I learned it in bigger areas, but, cooperation always has meant within my family, my team. Learning to balance speaking up for myself, but, being a cooperative teammate was a huge lesson. It’s such a divine and intuitive choice, and that journey really teaches you to get in touch with the depths of your soul. I think through diving into cooperation at a young age, I see everything as a team. Family is a team, friendship is a team, siblings are a team, my relationship with the Universe (me) is a team, my relationship with my heart/intuition are two separate teams, my relationship with writing is a team and so on. We’re all micro teams becoming a big Universal team.
4 – Self Control
And now, we move onto the second row! Self Control always used to be my brother’s hardest block and my easiest, as confidence used to be my hardest and his easiest. My brother and I were and still are opposite in many ways, we teach each other and the opposites bring us closer. As a kid, I was almost too self controlled; I’d push everything down and never speak up. So, learning how to be honest and authentic while still being self-controlled was a really good paradox for me to learn. Again, I think it’s such a powerful and divine choice we make within.
5 – Alertness
Whenever I think of alertness, I immediately think of my younger, shy self. I remember myself in a room just quietly observing everyone and paying close attention to every little thing. People watching is my thing as I have much experience 😂. But alertness is so much more than this; alertness is detail, attention and listening. I remember my mom especially teaching me alert listening. Alert listening is so powerful and one of the kindest things in this Universe. I also learned alertness through tennis; making a hundred decisions in one second takes skilled alertness. Alertness is an art and it’s a beautiful art at that.
6 – Actionand Determination
Action and Determination were always paired together. Determined action is the best action. And action without determination is simply not action. Determination is an attitude, it’s a mindset. My mom has always been such a fierce example of determination. In all she does, she’s determined, driven and fueled by passion. My dad is an incredible example of determination too; he just goes about it in a different way, a calmer way. Action is an intricate and deep lesson. There’s action and then there’s smart action and those are two very different things. Efficient action, specific action and purposeful action are gifts tennis has taught me. Tennis truly brought all these blocks to life, but, for Action, it especially comes to mind.
7 – Fitness
Now, onto the 3rd row!! As a four-year-old, serious fitness was not a big thing in my life 😂. I’d just started tennis and my parents applied this block to tennis. Tennis wasn’t serious at this point in my life, it was just an activity I was barely beginning to love. But, practicing doing my personal best came to life here. I absolutely love fitness and the gym now, it’s a place full of adrenaline for me. And I do love the pain, it’s a time for me to grow and to achieve. I’d kind of forgotten fitness was a block, but, for where I am now in my journey — it’s a full circle moment.
8 – Skill
Skill was a confusingly simple block for me back in the day. This block was also taught to me through tennis. I definitely understand skill a lot more now. With smart action and determination, you can be skilled at anything. As the quote underneath this block says, “Practice makes perfect.” Who knows if perfect actually exists, but, practice and constant improvement creates skill. Towards the top of this pyramid, my parents would often revert back to the foundational blocks to show how they all connect to the ones above it. And it’s so true; I can really see it now.
9 – Team Spirit
Team Spirit like Cooperation was taught to me within my family team. And then it seeped out into bigger teams in the outside world. Whenever I think of Team Spirit, I immediately think of my family. Team Spirit is an energy, a vibration and a frequency — it’s a connection. It is a teammate’s responsibility to raise the spirit, to give 100% and to influence the heart and soul of the team. And I think even in the team of you and your soul, team spirit is huge. You have the choice to look at a tough moment as tough and hard, or as a challenge you and your soul will learn from and overcome together.
10 – Poise and Confidence
These blocks were big big ones for me. Besides Hard Work and Enthusiasm, these two were probably the biggest. I never truly understood Poise until a few years ago. My parents always explained it has being confident and then authentically living that confidence in all experiences. Confidence was really hard for me for many years, I lived with fear in a lot of my youth. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world though, it made me the fearless and free soul I am today! When I started to fully believe in myself, I found confidence. And poise came almost naturally. Being my authentic self no matter what was a journey of its own, but, one of the most rewarding things in my life! It feels so good to be authentically you all the time; there’s this inner knowing of I AM that just oozes out of your soul. I could honestly write a whole post about poise and confidence, but, to keep it short, these two blocks will always have a special place in my being.
And with that, we come to Personal Best!!! Personal Best is me, it’s my soul, it’s my forever solid foundation. Thank you to my parents, for doing beyond their personal best in raising me to be the fearless and free soul I am today. And for instilling such powerful and life long values in me at a young age. Thank you to my brother, who’s been on this personal best journey with me since the very beginning! Thank you to my childhood, for blessing me with opportunity after opportunity to practice doing my personal best! Thank you to tennis, for being my vehicle to putting all these blocks together and for allowing me to grow with each one. And thank you to YOU, for reading this for always inspiring me to go beyond my personal best! I hope this helps you on your journey! Be fearless and free – Ace