Over the last 2 months we have focused on the first 10 qualities in Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. He created his Pyramid of Success to clearly lay out what a person would need to do in order to be successful on and off the basketball court.
Coach Wooden was not solely focused on creating basketball champions. He was focused on creating successful people in life. That included getting good grades in their academics, having strong family connections and friends, having a spiritual focus, and more.
He never referred to himself as a coach, he saw himself as a teacher. The pyramid of success was one of his best teaching tools ever!
Let’s focus on the final 5 qualities on the Pyramid of Success.
Number 11: Skill
“What a leader learns after you’ve learned it all counts most of all.”
Coach Wooden knew that repetition is the mother of skill. His practices were extremely well planned out so he could maximize the time put into skill development.
There were certain fundamentals he drilled with his team over and over again to develop the necessary muscle memory and reactions to be at their best. It all started on day #1 of the new season when Coach would teach the right way to put on your socks and lace up your shoes.
He knew that if a player got a blister on their foot it would deter their performance, so he made sure they knew the right way to do it, and he inspected what he expected.
Number 12: Team Spirit
“The star of the team is the team. We’ supersedes me.”
Coach Wooden had some basketball legends during his time coaching at UCLA. Some of those players were hall of famers, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. It would have been easy for him to let them run the game and focus on scoring all the points, but he knew the team would not be at their best if they did that.
He focused on developing a well-rounded team that could do it all – handle the ball with great skill, shoot, pass, defend, get rebounds, etc. This lead to a focus on performing at their best and no one overshadowed anyone else, eliminating jealousy and in-fighting.
Number 13: Poise
“Be yourself. Don’t be thrown off by events whether good or bad.”
Coach Wooden never spoke of winning or losing. Instead he focused on being prepared for anything and everything that could happen during a game and giving your best effort 100% of the time.
He never wanted his players to fear failure, whether that was losing a game, missing a shot, etc. He knew that if a player was afraid of losing or making a mistake, they would not play at their potential. Instead, the focus was doing their very best and learning from their victories as well as their failures.
This allowed the players to be relaxed and excited for that moment when the game was on the line. They were calm, cool, and collected, which is why they dominated college basketball.
Number 14: Confidence
“The strongest steel is well-founded self-belief. It is earned, not given.”
Coach Wooden believed in a concept called “Confidence through Competence”. He knew that as his players developed higher levels of skill and ability, they would be more confident and sure of what they could do on the court.
This is why his practices were so thoroughly planned out – so they could drill the fundamentals that they needed to succeed. Interestingly enough, Coach never watched film of other teams. He felt that he could not control what they did, but he knew he could control the level of preparation he put his team through.
By game time, they were so well prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally, that their confidence was through the roof. This led to winning 10 National Championships in 12 years and an 88-game winning streak.
Number 15: Competitive Greatness
“Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”
This was Coach Wooden’s top attribute on the pyramid. So many things in life are out of our control, but giving your best effort is always in a person’s control.
Because Coach never spoke of winning and losing, his players did not feel pressured to score a certain amount of points or post certain statistics. They were relaxed and focused on giving their best.
This led to the team performing at the highest of levels and succeeding more than any other team in sports history.
Coach Wooden will go down in history as one of the best coaches and leaders ever. His pyramid of success is a blueprint of how to lead a team to greatness and develop champions off the court as well as on. We should all be paying attention to his teachings. It will help us all get to the next level of success and fulfillment.