“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” – John Wooden
Many consider John Wooden to be the greatest coach in all of sports history. He is known for leading UCLA to ten national championships over a twelve-year span — once posting an incredible 88 consecutive wins. More importantly, Wooden’s influence transcends college basketball. He is famous for his impact in the lives of his former players, his family and friends, and among a vast number of executives who follow his leadership and management techniques. Wooden wanted to share his philosophy with the world, to enrich the life of anyone who was willing to listen and learn. Wooden on Leadership documents his philosophy.
“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
As a coach, Wooden demonstrated talents, skills, and qualities of character seldom found in a single person. He led others by example, but also by the force of his convictions. After reading this book, some may conclude that he was idealistic, naive, corny or old-fashioned. But in fact he was a strict disciplinarian with non-negotiable values who had zero tolerance for attitude and behavior he perceived to be selfish, rude, unsportsmanlike or indolent. He invariably accepted his team’s defeats with grace, but was saddened – sometimes so angered that he exclaimed, “Goodness gracious sakes!” – by anything less than a best-effort, not only from his assistant coaches and players but also (especially) from himself. It should be added that, according to those who knew him best (including the coaches of opponents’ teams), he was always an exceptionally thoughtful, caring, and decent person.
“To attract people with good values, you must have good values.”
Wooden was a firm believer that actions define character, and he argues throughout the book that people of character seek out people with character. Nothing is more frustrating than following proper ethical behavior when co-workers or upper management are not. When this happens, one of two things usually occurs. Either these individuals will lapse into similar behavior, or they get frustrated and leave.
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
Wooden chose to become basketball coach. No matter what profession he would have chosen, Wooden would have been an extraordinary leader. Through this book, Wooden’s wisdom is available to everyone. Hopefully, decision-makers in the business world, public service, and the military will read this book so that they can become leaders worthy of service to those entrusted to their care.
“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.”