May 16, 1997
Last week, unexpectedly charged up over Rick Pitino, I ran out and bought - at markdown - his bestseller, "Success Is a Choice: Ten Steps to Overachieving in Business and Life."
"Give me a week," I told my editor, "I'm going to turn myself around. I'm making success a choice."
thought you were refusing to lose," she said, refusing to display the
positive attitude of the kind of person I would henceforth be
surrounding myself with (as recommended in Step 3, Always Be Positive).
she was confused. I had (ITAL) refused ("Refuse to Lose," by former
UMASS Coach John Calipari), but most recently I was searching, with
Miami Heat Coach Pat Riley's help, for "The Winner Within."
the highest paid coach in the game's history, and I wanted a piece of
what he had. Except, perhaps, his hair piece, or hair weave, which,
according to his longtime hairdresser, he does not have.
he does have, according to the inquiring (Lexington, Ky.)
Herald-Leader, is a seldom-photographed bald spot. "Is it
Hair-in-a-Can?" the paper asked in a recent article. "The world's most
amazing comb-over? Did he have, as one cynic alleged, a scalp
All this attention to Pitino's
pate would be pointless were it not for the basketball coach's own
emphasis on looks, as demonstrated by his
best-dressed-in-the-1997-NCAA-tourney award, and spelled out in Step 4
of his book (Establish Good Habits).
appearance is important," he - or maybe his co-author, Bill Reynolds -
wrote. "It's the old truth that people don't invest their money with
someone who looks sloppy and undisciplined."
interpreted this to mean I should go shopping, and decided my challenge
for Day One would be to look, in my mother's word, "presentable." When
my colleagues commented on my unusually kempt appearance, I responded:
"Thank you, I'm making success a choice."
in the day, at a trip to Jordan's Furniture to interview the brothers, I
stained my jacket buckling into the Motion Odyssey Movie Ride (M.O.M.),
a ride so unrelated to dining room sets one has to admire the mind that
thought of putting it in a furniture store. Anyway, back at the paper, a
lot of people pointed to the strange smear near my pocket and said,
"You have something . . .")
exhausted my wardrobe and budget, I decided Day Two would best be spent
on Step 1 (Build Self-Esteem); Step 7 (Thrive on Pressure); and Step 9
(Learn from Adversity).
I had to leave work a little early for another story, so my compressed schedule looked like this:
10 a.m. to noon: Learn to like me.
Noon to 2 p.m.: Learn to live in the moment.
2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Learn to dry clean.
Day 3, word got out that I was writing this story, and co-workers
started mocking. "How's the success going?" they'd ask sarcastically,
eyeing my Diet Coke can-ridden domain. I gave Pitino's suggested answer, "I feel great," but they weren't buying.
attitude would have worn the old me down, but I now recognized them for
what they are: "The Fellowship of the Miserable," in Pitino's words, the "killers of the dream."
No one was going to kill my dream. Which, at the moment was to interview Coach Pitino
himself. But not on Days 4 or 5, as those were weekend days. (Making
success a choice is one thing, belonging to a union is another.)
Day 6 was the day I'd allotted to A) interview Pitino, and B) work on Step 8 (Be Ferociously Persistent). I called two different Pitino publicists a total of four times, but apparently the coach was making silence a choice.
perhaps he was just following his own Step 5 (Master the Art of
Communication), which dictates that one listen four times more than one
talk. Maybe he'd already hit his speaking quota for the day.
Yesterday, Day 7, I arose early as Pitino
suggests. Unfortunately I didn't hustle to work, but rather took the
opportunity to wolf down some leftover strawberry rhubarb pie. I was up,
but I was eating.
When I finally arrived
at the office, I took stock. I had not won a Pulitzer. I had not been
promoted. I was back to sloppy. But you should see my hook shot.