win the day

Water the Bamboo

So, forgive me, but every human being who lives in Oregon is caught up in Duck fever at the moment.  In case you've been on retreat in a snow cave, that's because we're playing Auburn in the BCS National Championship game tomorrow night.  Go, Ducks.

This morning, I read yet another story about the Ducks magical 12-0 season, this one featuring the meteoric rise of head coach Chip Kelly.  Read about how he bounds into the practice arena at the crack of dawn every day and cranks up the music.  How he lives and breathes football.  How he hasn't been afraid to execute his unorthodox ideas about offense. I've written about Kelly's philosophy before.  I love reading about Kelly's coaching ideas, because he draws them from a wide range of sources, including the business world.  His dedication is legendary and inspiring.  His most well-known saying, and the one you'll see featured prominently all over Oregon, is win the day.  Its that simple: win the day. 

In other words, concentrate on the task before you.  Take it one day at a time.  Be present and be where you are, period.  Bamboo-grove-japan-34281-o

But in an article about the Ducks that ran this Friday, I learned one of Kelly's other aphorisms: water the bamboo.  Apparently, after bamboo is planted, you have to water it regularly and faithfully for three or four years.  Years in which nothing happens.  Until finally, after long and religious watering, a shoot appears above ground.  And then that shoot grows like crazy, often reaching ridiculously heights in just a few weeks.  But the catch is, to achieve that crazy growth, you have to keep at the watering, even when you don't see results, even when you're sick of it, even when you're not sure anything at all is happening.

And that really resonates with me.  Because over the last year, I've been watering and watering and watering the bamboo, waiting for the shoots.   I have faith they'll break through soon.  And stories like this remind me to be patient.  (News flash: there's a website, book, and program on this very topic, called, amazingly enough, water the bamboo.  Check it out here.)

And so, besides the fact that I'm an alum, I'm excited about this Duck team because of the philosophies that lie beneath everything they do.  It's something we can all learn from and emulate.

To read fan notes from the other side, visit my buddy J.D. Frost's blog.  He's a long-time reader and he's the best.  It is so great to be friends with some one from the opposing team.  Because this way if Auburn wins, which I know they won't, I'll at least be happy for someone.

48815_1394384511_5138768_n One final note: I'm pleased to read that there will be a moment of silence for the Tucson victims tomorrow night at the BCS game.  I've been glued to CNN and Twitter all weekend, watching the horrible tragedy unfold.  I only hope it starts to put an end to the endless vitriol we've all come to assume is politics as usual.

What about you?  What philosophies or aphorisms inspire you?  Who are you rooting for in the BCS? No, don't tell me. Unless you're rooting for the Ducks.  Kidding.  What kinds of roots have you been watering?


Bamboo image from henryy, on Everystockphoto.  Tucson tears from the Social Citizen blog.

WTD: Win The Day

After a very long and torturous journey involving a four-hour drive and then an endless plane ride (but at least I didn't get stuck overnight in Houston) I made it home at 11 PM Friday night, which was 2 AM in the time zone I left that morning.


Fortunately, this was just in time to watch the Ducks football game on Saturday night at my sister's home theater set-up.  They won, going to a 4-0 record befitting their #5 national ranking, despite the fact that my Lucky Duck shirt was in a box on its way home from Gatlinburg.  The Lucky Duck shirt is an old faded shirt my daughter gave me to wear to a game last year and ever since the Ducks won that game it is a requirement that I wear it.  If they are behind and I put it on, they start winning.  It is quite glorious to have so much power over a football team and some day I know I will earn the thanks I deserve.  However, even I will admit that I made a grievous error in sending the Duck shirt home in the box that won't arrive until this Wednesday.  I made up for it by buying a brand new shirt and that seemed to do the trick.

Something I learned about the Ducks coach, Chip Kelly, resonated with me, and of course, writing.  Chip's slogan is WTD, or Win the Day.  His philosophy is to focus only on the game ahead of him, nothing else.  Not the game coming up next week, or winning the Pac-10 conference, or going to the Rose Bowl.  Just the current game. WTD.  Worry about the game in front of you and winning it.

It is good to apply that kind of focus to your writing, too.  Think about what you've decided to work on that moment, think about putting words on the page, nothing more.  Don't think about how it compares to what you wrote yesterday, or how you should really be doing laundry.  Refuse to ponder the odds of getting published.  And whatever you do, don't traipse over to Facebook, Twitter, or your email inboxes to see what is up.  WTWD.  Win the Writing Day.  Which you do by focusing on putting one word after another.


Image of the Oregon Duck by d70focus, from Everystockphoto.