Jim Chaps songwriter, guitarist

Folksinger Jim Chaps is a treasure-finder in the public domain. He operates from a niche in music bringing life to poems, some quite relevant to the history of America. Jim has recorded four solo projects, most recently UNHINGED (2017) which features PeaceFoals on their highly regarded song "Sending Love." Jim started singing his original works during the 1970's - at age 18. Jim performed at The Hinge a college coffeehouse held in the home of auto pioneer Henry Ford in Dearborn. Perhaps the biggest discovery was Jim finding The Star-Spangled Banner's Fifth Verse. "I was shocked. I knew the song as well as anyone in music. I memorized and recorded all four verses... we were taught that there were only the four verses. I found that the poet Oliver Wendell-Holmes wrote a concluding verse in the era of The Civil War. It is an important verse - especially in light of some people saying currently - and WRONGLY - that the song itself should be disregarded! Good people, bravely stood against tyranny, died fighting for liberty, justice and to truly make and keep America the land of the free for everyone. It's misleading and/or gullible to suggest the song is hateful."



Detroit connection: Jim Chaps, Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell in Sarasota, FL after Jim's  first live performance of Acoustic National Anthem.


Be quick, but don’t hurry.

Jim Chaps: My year of doing John Wooden Planks

The words, "learn more about John Wooden" popped into my brain. That was odd. What prompted that?

I was with my wife on a running vacation in Arizona, New Year's Day, 2017. I knew this "prompting" was clear enough to be special, so I literally ran with it. That day my New Year's resolution became: For one year, do plank exercises while watching videos about John Wooden, ESPN's "greatest coach of the 20th century." YouTube is a trove of information. The abs can always use some work and even as a 59-year-old sports-lover, I can compete! (No idea what I was about to get into.) Now so glad I did this, please read on.

Ground rules: The minutes of planking each day matched the day of the month. All of the minutes had to be done in one continuous session. I mostly watched the videos from my smartphone placed strategically on the floor.

Protect the shoulders! Stay injury free. "Accommodate" as necessary! The time display of the video is the stop watch. Hips off the floor, press the pause button to catch a mini-breather if needed but stay in position. Deep breaths. (Some days push pause more than others.) Those 20-minute planks are difficult. They're two-thirds as tough as the 30's. Sundays are off. TGIS.

The name "John Wooden Planks" helped make this challenge fun (I always chuckle at the "Before and After" puzzles on Wheel of Fortune.) Need to pace this for the full year.

I did, and here it was, Dec. 30 - a Saturday!  I crushed it with a 31 to close the year out!

Key takeaways:

Learning about Woodenisms (his maxims, quotes), the pyramid of success and that unique "definition of success" and Wooden advocates, great people still among us.

How we apply Wooden's teaching to current dilemmas:

“Keep an open mind.”

“Hear what the other person has to say.”

Classic stories about Bill Walton, Sidney Wicks and other players challenging "rules" they felt were restricting to freedom.  To be on the team, players needed to be neat and clean. No facial hair. Remember this is the late 60's early 70's rock and roll, protests, flower power, hippies, love-ins. Walton wanted to wear a beard, sideburns and long hair. in the off-season he began looking like a Grateful Dead drummer. Walton showed up for a new season and was swiftly told by Wooden he had to obey the rules. Walton said to Coach Wooden, "You don't have the right to tell me how I can dress, or how I wear my hair." Wooden replied, "You're right, Bill, I only have the right to determine who is going to play for UCLA this year... and we're going to miss you." Within 20 minutes Walton returned to practice, clean-shaven sporting a neat haircut.

Professional athletic leagues and other employers can benefit from understanding this interchange. Again, some might be tempted to think, "The times are different now. Those methods would have no place in our modern, changing culture." This is actually scoffing. Really, any of us  thinking Wooden is out-of-date should call a technical on ourselves. That's suffering. It's buying things that you don't understand. Gullibility attacks timeless moral guidance. People that don't want to work hard won't like Wooden.

Some Woodenisms (essential - not a complete list):

Make each day your masterpiece.

Be true to yourself.

Make friendship a fine art.

Be quick but don't hurry.

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.

It's about what is right, not who is right.

I believe it's my job to share some of the "teaching" of Wooden.

We should stay open-minded with others.

There is no progress without change but all change is not progress.

Patience and Faith connect the blocks of the pyramid leading to "competitive greatness." The cornerstones are "Industriousness" and "Enthusiasm"

Scoffers are gonna scoff. Scoffers. Wooden's ways and words have no expiration date. They are as true today, as when he first shared them with his students, athletes and all who heard him.

Be quick, but don't hurry.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

The star of the team is the team.

Be true to yourself.  (That actually is at the top of the list of seven point creed he got from his dad. Be true to yourself.)

Today is the only day that matters.

Make friendship a fine art.

Make today your masterpiece.

It's better not to do something for someone that they could do and should do for themselves.

Count your blessings everyday.

Activity without achievement means nothing.

Don't try to be better than anyone else; never stop trying to be the best that you can be.

There is no progress without change, but all change is not progress.

Hard work and enthusiasm are the cornerstones in the pyramid of success.

And what exactly is success? Here's where the sound bites stop - and the enduring lesson lives:

By Teacher John Wooden:

Success is peace of mind attained only through self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable. (He adds, "and only you can know if you did truly did your best.')

Did I do my best? Today. Repeat. Today. If I did my best, I should have peace of mind, knowing I made the effort to do my best. Today. That is success.

The simplicity and compassion of this definition was immense. I'd never heard this before--just focused on "winning", etc.  I pushed the pause button and wept. I sobbed on the floor because it felt like a huge burden was lifted off of me.  Just do the best I can do - today.

Perspective and relevancy:

Wooden and Never Giving Up go together.... He persevered with coaching in relative obscurity for 32 years - half of those years he coached in high school -- before winning the first of the 10 national titles. He had great athletes including legendary superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar present for three titles; another two title teams had co-superstars Bill Walton and Silky Jamaal Wilkes. So, five others championship seasons were teams "without" superstars. The star of the team is the team.

Persistence. Every day, best effort. Patience, faith, hard work and enthusiasm are vital. The result should be peace of mind because you know you truly did your best. Today. 


We can overlay Wooden's perspective to some situations in which we find ourselves today. The NFL, NCAA and sports leagues, companies, churches and individuals will improve by heeding some of these teachings.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It IS UNINTELLIGENT to think, "things are different now than they were when Wooden coached." There is no progress without change, but all change is not progress. We have newer technology, but we still have civil rights issues, ethnic stress, gender issues, greed, selfishness, power struggles. Different now? Not really, the earth is still following its orbit; people still value respect; gravity still has some pull; rain still wet, sun still warm. Laws of life remain constant.

Modern Dilemma:

Wisdom and logic (all present in Wooden'’s coaching) should be re-amplified for a better society. There are judges and lawyers suffering from a present inability to make correct, logical distinctions between right or wrong.

Independent artists opposed to creating custom-requested, special projects or messages because of the artists' sincere, personal, religious or moral reasons MUST REMAIN FREE from threat of punishment when the artist or artists choose to decline special requests, known as "COMMISSIONED WORKS." Mandating compliance with an expression not readily available without the special treatment tramples freedom. This becomes FORCED SPEECH -- NOT FREE SPEECH. For goodness gracious sakes alive!!! (That's an homage also to Wooden. One of his rules was no profanity -- no cussing. Was part of discipline to encourage self control.)

Good Logic from clear thinking. People need good teachers like Wooden to learn how to apply wisdom and reason for best answers and outcomes. "Keep an open mind, listen to what the other person has to say."

I have heard some say, I think with ill intent, "John Wooden was good for his time, but times are different now." It is intending to mislead people, but it will only mislead the gullible. Wooden's wisdom stands the test of time. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Wooden had a great sense of humor and loved poetry.... "People ask me why it took so long to win my first national title... I say it's because I'm a slow learner. But you'll notice, once I learn something I have it down pretty good." The takeaway: whatever you are doing now, keep doing your very best every day.

This teaching motivates me in my songwriting, and in developing the patented leverageable musicians' implements we call "arcs". Just like trucks are not cars, arcs are not picks. They offer better control and more tonal options for guitarists and ukulele players. The process has taken time, hard work and persistent enthusiasm. People are going to love these. As a songwriter, I started when I was in college in 1976, and I still pursue without giving up. I'm inspired to keep going and keep improving. Coach Wooden said, "I always felt like a success even when we weren't winning national championships...I was doing my best. I was a better coach this year than last year. I was a better coach last year than I was the year before and so on."  Thankful for the prompting to heed and learn from this great teacher. The daily planks challenge morphed to become as much mental as physical.

That block of time every day was consistent and to succeed, I had to be there for every second of it. Twenty-two minutes always takes at least 22 minutes. The silver-lining: I was learning about how Wooden thought.

YOUR TURN: If you are an athlete or a musician or songwriter or artist, please try the challenge. Even if just for one week. I became liberated, liberated from a faulty perspective of success because I came to understand Coach Wooden's definition of success. There are things well-worth understanding--especially because, "It's the things you learn after you know it all that matter most."  I also learned elbow callouses happen.

ESPN calls John Wooden the “greatest coach of the 20th century.” Wooden was basketball coach for UCLA from 1948 – 1975. During his last 12 years coaching, the UCLA Bruins men's basketball teams won 10-out-of-12 national championships. “He never talked about winning,” his former players say.

As part of “The band that bridges time,” Peace Foals, Jim along with millennial-ageds Cory “Hot” Cocco and Brandon, “Bud” Zachary deliver acoustic music infused with great guitar, percussion and warm vocals. Relax and enjoy. Follow Peace Foals on Spotify.

FYI - “Foal” is the English word for a newborn horse. The poet Carl Sandberg once said something like, “A baby is God’s proof that there’s hope for the future.” Let’s giddy on up! Please connect with us… we appreciate you doing this. Thank you!