Tony DeMeo

Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson

There’s not many professions that has more peaks and valleys than coaching football. Not only do you have peaks and valleys during the course of the season but each individual game has an abundance of peaks and valleys and numerous momentum swings. This book, Peaks and Valleys by Spenser Johnson seemed like a good fit for coaches whose life has an abnormal amount of peaks and valleys.

Spencer Johnson is one of my favorite authors and I would recommend any of his many best sellers which include Who Moved My Cheese, The One Minute Manager (which he co-authored with Ken Blanchard) and The Present which I reviewed earlier. Spencer writes in parables that are extremely easy reading and I usually read them in one sitting and them re-read them. These books are not only informative but very entertaining as well.

Peaks and Valleys is the story of a young guy who was very depressed in the valley so he visits a old guy who lives on the peak. He was filled with doubt and fear so he needs the wise old man’s advice. The old man comes through and builds his protégé’s confidence and the youngster descends the peak to make his mark in the valley.

All goes well for a while but then disaster hits and his success crashes down upon him and it’s time for more advice from the sage on the peak. The old man told him that peaks and valleys are connected and what you do when you’re in your valley will determine how soon you’ll get to your next peak. And what you do while you are on your peak will determine how long you will stay on your peak. In other words you must learn to manage both good times and not so good times.

The old man told him to stay on the peak and get along with others, he must keep his ego on a shelf. This is an easy lesson to forget when you are on a roll and your team is beating every team in its path. But if you’ll soon discover that “your genius” is only as good as the guys on the field.

I’m not going to tell you the entire story but it will definitely keep your attention. But I will share some of the key points of the book:

  1. To manage your good and bad times make reality your friend. What is the truth of my situation?
  2. To get out of your valley sooner, find and use the good hidden in a bad time.
  3. To stay on the Peak longer, appreciate and manage your good times. Be humble and grateful. Do more for others.
  4. To get to your next peak, follow your sensible vision. See yourself enjoying yourself on your next peak in intense detail.
  5. To help people, share this with others.

I really enjoyed Peaks and Valleys and recognized many mistakes that I made in my life. Especially about handling good times. I was a head college coach at 25 and had coached an undefeated team at 27, I thought I was the next Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi rolled into one. My head got so big, I had to butter it to get it through the door, but life has a way of bringing you back down to earth. I strongly recommend Peaks and Valleys to anyone in a coaching position or anyone who has just had some ups and downs.

Tony DeMeo