Most of us think our lives accumulate. We think they are adding up to something. We think of our lives as being strung together like a long smoky train, so that we can add new freight cars when we’re feeling right and dump the others on a siding somewhere when we’re not.But when basketball legend John Wooden’s father said to him, “Make each day your masterpiece,” Wooden knew something profound: Life is now. Life is not later on. And the more we hypnotize ourselves into thinking we have all the time in the world to do what we want to do, the more we sleepwalk past life’s finest opportunities. Self-motivation flows from the importance we attach to today.
John Wooden was the most successful college basketball coach of all time. His UCLA teams won 10 national championships in a 12-year time span. Wooden created a major portion of his coaching and living philosophy from one thought—a single sentence passed on to him by his father when Wooden was a little boy— “Make each day your masterpiece.”
While other coaches would try to gear their players toward important games in the future, Wooden always focused on today. His practice sessions at UCLA were every bit as important as any championship game. In his philosophy, there was no reason not to make today the proudest day of your life. There was no reason not to play as hard in practice as you do in a game. He wanted every player to go to bed each night thinking, “Today I was at my best.”
Most of us, however, don’t want it to be this way. If someone asks us if today can be used as a model to judge our entire life by, we would shriek, "On no! It isn’t one of my better days. Give me a year or two andI’ll live a day, I’m certain of it, that you can use to represent my life."The key to personal transformation is in your willingness to do very tiny things—but to do them today.
Transformation is not an all-or-nothing game, it’s a work in progress. A little touch here and a small touch there is what makes your day (and, therefore, your life) great. Today is a microcosm of your entire life. It is your whole life in miniature. You were “born” when you woke up, and you’ll “die” when you go to sleep. It was designed this way, so that you could live your whole life in a day.