Coach John Wooden is the most winning coach in sports history. He was the head coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team for 27 years and is most known for winning 10 National Championships in 12 years. At one point, his Bruins had an 88 game winning streak. Very impressive to say the least!
Throughout his coaching career, Coach Wooden often thought about what success meant to him. He, in his infinite wisdom, realized that not everyone is born with the same gifts and talents. He did not like measuring people by the same standard, since some people were naturally more intelligent, some were more athletic, etc.
He developed his own definition of success, which is, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”
Not only did Coach Wooden develop one of the best definitions of success in history, but he also created the Pyramid of Success. The Pyramid of Success is a compilation of 15 qualities that a person must have to reach their true potential.
Coach Wooden was focused solely on helping his players reach their true potential and making sure they were completely prepared for the upcoming game. He never spoke of winning…ever!
Winning was not his goal. The goal was to make his players the best they could be by preparing them diligently and encouraging them to give their best effort 100% of the time.
For the next 3 months, we are going to take a deep dive into the 15 qualities that Coach drilled into his players and assistant coaches. This month, we will focus on the bottom of the pyramid, which focuses on the first 5 attributes of a successful person.
Number 1: Industriousness
“Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick, no easy way.”
Coach Wooden encouraged and demanded his players give their best effort 100% of the time. He never compared players to one another. Instead, he looked at each player on his team and pushed them to be their best all day, every day.
He not only insisted on this in basketball, but in their academics as well. If a player’s grades were not up to par, they rode the bench regardless of how good of a player they were. This is not a common practice in sports today.
He viewed himself as a teacher, not just a coach. He was teaching them how to succeed in life, and that cannot happen without them putting in the hard work necessary to succeed.
Number 2: Enthusiasm
“Your energy and enjoyment, drive and dedication will stimulate and greatly inspire others.
Coach Wooden knew that to be great in anything, basketball, academics, and everything else, you have to enjoy what you are doing, be driven to be your personal best, and that enthusiasm will carry over to your teammates, friends, and co-workers.
He wanted them to have fun, because when a player is enjoying what they are doing, they will do it better and more efficiently. He also knew that one player’s enthusiasm and energy will inspire others to act and feel the same way.
Number 3: Friendship
“Strive to build a team filled with camaraderie and respect: comrades-in-arms.”
Coach Wooden knew that not everyone on the team would be best friends and always see eye to eye, however, he encouraged and demanded that his players have a mutual respect and camaraderie on the court. He wanted positive and respectful communication among his players, so the team could play at their best.
This avoided the formation of cliques on any of his teams. Everyone was an equal part and of equal value on the team.
Number 4: Cooperation
“Have utmost concern for what’s right rather than who’s right.”
Coach Wooden understood that together everyone achieves more – the true meaning of the word TEAM. That meant that players had to be focused on winning games ahead of their own personal statistics and accolades. Sure, some of his players were superstars, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton.
While he appreciated their high-level of skill and ability, he never treated them better than anyone else. He demanded that they all focused on the team and working together to be successful. That meant not shooting all the time but looking for the pass, and everyone helping out on defense.
Number 5: Loyalty
“Be true to yourself. Be true to those you lead.”
Coach Wooden often referred to being true to yourself, which meant that a person does everything they are capable of to be their best. He felt that was one of the best ways to help your team win. This creates trust and loyalty among the team.
He encouraged and demanded that his players be there for one another, so the team could function at a high level. When everyone shows up prepared, focused, and ready to give 100%, everyone works harder to help the team succeed.
This creates a tremendous amount of loyalty and camaraderie among the players.
Next month, we will focus on the next 5 qualities in Coach Wooden’s legendary Pyramid of Success!