Bill Walton had huge success as a basketball player in both college and the NBA. He was a disciple of legendary coach John Wooden, who led his UCLA teams to ten championships in twelve years. Walton went on to become a popular on-air personality, and is a well-known fan of the Grateful Dead.
In The Book of Basketball, author Bill Simmon’s concludes his comprehensive look at the world of the NBA by describing a conversation the writer had with Walton, which included the following passage:
[Winning is] not a secret, as much as a choice. Look at the forces fighting against that choice. Look at the forces pushing you to make the other choice. [The choice for] material acquisitions, physical gratification, stats and highlights. Everywhere you go, you’re bombarded with the opposite message of what really matters. The history of life is that most people (come to) figure it out. Most of the time it’s too late. That’s the real frustrating part — the squandered opportunities that you can’t get back.
I love this quote because it speaks to the importance of building. In Walton’s case, he’s speaking to the particulars of professional athletics, but I think it holds just as true for other aspects of life. TV commercials tell us to chase the instant gratification of consumer experience, but the real truth is that satisfaction comes from investing yourself in something you care about. What seems to happen for too many of us is that we don’t realise this truth until the day has passed us by.