Among the Christmas presents found under the tree in the Foster home was a gift of two books given to me by son Gerry -- a teacher and coach in Ahwatukee.
Both publications, "Strive To Excel" and "Winning Is A Habit," are collections of the will and wisdom of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi.
With the new year, many among us are putting together resolutions for personal improvement. A quick glimpse at some of the time-honored passages attributed to Lombardi might be of help in setting those new goals.
Testaments attributed to Lombardi include:
"The difference between success and failure is energy."
"Errors, mistakes and humiliations are all necessary steps in the learning process. Once they have served their purpose, they should be forgotten."
"The most important element in character is mental toughness."
"It's not whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get up again."
"Adversity is the first path to truth. Prosperity is a great teacher, adversity is greater."
"Hurt is in the mind."
"What is defeat? Nothing but education, nothing but the first step to something better."
"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender."
"Heart power is your strength. Heart power is the strength of America. And hate power is the weakness of the world."
Second place is meaningless. You can't always be first but have to believe you should have been -- that you are never beaten, time just ran out on you."
"Never pray for victory, pray for the will of God."
"If you really want something, you can have it if you are willing to pay the price. And the price means that you have to work better and harder than the next guy."
"They call it coaching, but it is teaching."
"You can't be a cold fish and go out and coach. If you're going to be involved in it, you gotta take your emotions with you."
"If you give anything less than your best ... your cheating the Maker who gave you that talent."
"You don't have to do what is right once in a while, but all of the time."
"The prevailing sentiment seems to be if you don't like the rule, break it ... Everything has been done to strengthen the rights of the individual and at the same time, weaken the rights of the church, weaken the rights of the state, and weaken the rights of all authority ... maybe we have too much freedom."
"The difference between a successful man and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."
"If there must be wrinkles upon our brow, let them not be in our heart. The spirit should not grow old."
Lombardi might have saved some of his best wisdom for last. After he was diagnosed with colon cancer and hospitalized for surgery and treatment, he said:
"I'm not afraid to meet my God now. But what I do regret is that there is so damn much left to be done on earth."