(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The beginning of a new year is a great time to prepare. I always think of how the great basketball coach John Wooden began each season: he reviewed how to tie shoelaces with his players.

Wooden went over the process in great detail: He made sure each player understood that precise attention to every detail is a terrific competitive advantage. A careless opponent might pay less attention to basics like tying shoes—and that could be the difference in a close contest. And the shoelaces secured the foundation of a player’s leverage on the floor. Wooden knew that paying attention to such a basic item also would underscore the value of attention to other details, by creating a mindset that nothing can be assumed when it comes to preparation.

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