A few months ago my good friends Betty and Raymond Hall gave me a copy of Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court. When the legendary basketball coach died on June 4, at age 99, I revisited some of his insights.

In the book, Coach John Wooden, who led the UCLA Bruins for 27 years and amassed a record 10 national men’s basketball titles, defined himself as a “realistic optimist.” He avoided negativism, he said, by setting realistic goals.

“Goals should be difficult to achieve because those achieved with little effort are seldom appreciated, give little personal satisfaction, and are often not very worthwhile,” wrote the Wizard of Westwood. “However, if you set goals that are so idealistic there’s no possibility of reaching them, you will eventually become discouraged.”

Most of us can name people who aim too high or too low — and maybe have done so at times ourselves. Being a “realistic optimist” seemed to work well for Coach Wooden. So his advice is instructive for developing the fine art of goal-setting that helps chart our futures.

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