I have a deep admiration for John Wooden.
The legendary UCLA basketball coach, “The Wizard of Westwood,” passed away Friday at the age of 99.
Having retired from the game 35 years ago, he moved on to share his philosophy on leadership and trademark “Pyramid of Success” with others through books and speaking engagements.
Wooden built a legacy of winning matched by very few in all of sport on a reputation for tremendous character and hard-nosed attention to detail. Having a mild obsession with organization myself, I write out my nightly lesson plans on 3×5 index cards with specific intervals for each subject as an homage to his down-to-the-minute practice regiments.
His expectations centered on peak performance. Results were secondary.
Drilling his players to fulfill talent instead of counting victories and defeats led to ten national championships and a host of “Wooden-isms” which can be applied in all arenas.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.
Proper attitude is central to achievement. On the long road from “concept” to “success,” you encounter many opportunities to become discouraged and give up.
Be resilient in the face of disappointment. It will get you far.
Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.
Everyone knows a person that repeats the same mistake over and over. Part of maturity is realizing what keeps us from becoming better and deciding to go in a different direction to avoid the same results.
Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
When you’re making a drastic change or tackling a major challenge, it is easy to notice what’s beyond your reach. Suddenly, you’ve fallen into a hole believing your powers are unequal to the task.
Focus instead on what you are able influence.
The rest will come.
If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
A classic line, it pairs well with another: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
Haste leads to errant thinking and decreased quality. Be patient. Emphasize precision first, then concern yourself with speed.
There has to be a definite purpose and goal if you are to progress. If you are not intent about what you are doing, you aren’t able to resist the temptation to do something else that might be more fun at the moment.
A peculiar concentration is necessary to reach the summit of your personal mountain. The climb is littered with distractions and chances to settle. Without single-minded determination to see the journey through, you will fall short.
It’s clear how Wooden’s simple, uncompromising system produced high-caliber execution.
The fundamental ideals he espoused created an environment and culture in which individuals could thrive in pursuit of team objectives.
Glory naturally followed.
Most important of all, however, is the guiding principle of his extraordinary life:
Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.
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