As a freelance writer and occasional author, one of the perks is spending quality time with some pretty cool people including Tony Dungy, Albert Pujols, Richard Petty, Tobymac, Chris Tomlin and Joel Osteen.
And while some are more famous than others, perhaps none have been more significant than Kay Yow.
And that’s just the short list of her on-court accomplishments.
Needless to say, it was a good thing I had not yet removed my sunglasses. My eyes welled up with tears as a strange mixture of grief and gratitude overcame me. I felt sorrow for the many friends and loved ones (or better yet, ones who loved her) that would no longer see her infectious smile each day. I was also thankful that Coach Yow was finally healed of that dreaded disease and enjoying her new body and the reality of God’s heavenly glory.
And here’s the really odd part. The sum total of my personal experience with Coach Yow is a little less than an hour. I had the privilege of interviewing her last summer for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) project and without hesitation I can say it was one of the best journalistic experiences of my life.
The title of the book is Excellence (Regal Books) and features some of those aforementioned superstars (i.e. Dungy, Pujols, the Pettys, etc.) as well as Coach Yow’s personal hero John Wooden). And with no disrespect to anyone, I’m sure they all could learn a whole lot about excellence from her stellar example.
In her honor, I’d like to give a few of Coach Yow’s tips on how to live the excellent life.
2) Show Character
“You need to develop the characteristics and qualities that give you the best chance at being successful,” Yow said. “I think that people without character, they always fall short of excellence. No matter how talented they are or how great they are, they will fall short. At the time you need them the most, they will fail you.”
4) Redefine Success
“When people think about excellence, a lot of times they’re thinking about the end result-the production,” Yow said. “I think they forget about the process and about the journey. This is where all the learning takes place. People don’t always see the big picture. They see more of the short term. To so many people, success is just money or position or power or title. Yet, if one hasn’t given their very best and they haven’t done it in the way that it should be done … then that’s not excellence. A commitment to value and doing it the right way is just as important to excellence as anything else.”
I can only hope to live a life that displays a fraction of the kind of excellence Kay Yow exhibited. She pursued excellence “enthusiastically” in this life and I have to believe that she will continue to do the same in the next.