A few minutes on one of the best leaders in U.S. history

March 22, 2013 by Joshua
in Blog, Fitness, Leadership

While searching for videos on Lou Gehrig for yesterday’s post, I happened on a short video on John Wooden, one of the great coaches of any sport. According to Wikipedia

John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) was an American basketball player and coach. Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood”, he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period—seven in a row—as head coach at UCLA, an unprecedented feat. Within this period, his teams won a record 88 consecutive games. He was named national coach of the year six times.

As a player, Wooden was the first to be named basketball All-American three times and he won a national championship at Purdue. Wooden was named a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player (inducted in 1961) and as a coach (in 1973), the first person ever enshrined in both categories.

He was one of the most revered coaches and was beloved by his former players, among them Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. Wooden was renowned for his short, simple inspirational messages to his players, including his “Pyramid of Success”. These often were directed at how to be a success in life as well as in basketball.

I couldn’t help but post the video since you can learn a lot from even just this short video. It speaks for itself, but I’ll note that the more you learn about him, the more you learn about leadership, coaching, people, and yourself.

I’ll copy a section on his teachings from Wikipedia, to which I almost feel compelled to clarify he coached basketball, not life in general. From Wikipedia:

Seven Point Creed

John Wooden’s Seven Point Creed, given to him by his father Joshua upon his graduation from grammar school:

  • Be true to yourself.
  • Make each day your masterpiece.
  • Help others.
  • Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  • Make friendship a fine art.
  • Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  • Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

Wooden also authored a lecture and a book about the Pyramid of Success.[95] The Pyramid of Success consists of philosophical building blocks for winning at basketball and at life. In his later years he was hired by corporations to deliver inspirational lectures and even appeared in commercials for Hartford Insurance and the NCAA. Following his death, all UCLA teams wore either a patch or helmet sticker with the initials “JRW” inside a black pyramid, in honor of his philosophy. It is generally known that he received lecture fees that exceeded the salaries he was paid as a coach. Wooden proudly claimed that these late in life windfalls allowed him to set up education accounts for all of his grandchildren. In a 2009 interview, John Wooden described himself politically as a “liberal Democrat,” who had voted for some Republican presidential candidates. At the top of the Pyramid of Success was “Competitive Greatness” which Wooden defined as “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

Wooden was also the author of several other books about basketball and life.

Among Wooden’s maxims:

  • Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. (from Benjamin Franklin)
  • Flexibility is the key to stability.
  • Be quick, but don’t hurry.

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1 response to “A few minutes on one of the best leaders in U.S. history

  1. Pingback: More on Wooden » Joshua Spodek

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