It is rare but not unheard of that a business column would take the cue from someone who was successful in sports and relate it to business. Many successful players are speakers on the business circuit. However, the success of John Wooden can be considered quite rare in itself. In college basketball, there was no equal—he was an icon. He was a great player and reached the Hall of Fame as a player. But it was as a college coach that he made a mark. More than a “mark,” he set a bar that is likely never to be reached again.
Without getting into too much detail regarding the statistics, because this article will not be about the numbers, let us advance just one: Ten National College Basketball Championships. No one else has more than three. Again, a bar that is not likely to be reached again. However, it is not about the champion-ships and winning streaks. It is about how John Wooden conducted his business. It is about his beliefs and how he went after success. As a matter of fact, he lectured about and authored a book called “The Pyramid of Success.” His beliefs are easily translated into any world, including business.
It will be hard to achieve the essence of his beliefs in a short article. Therefore, we will focus on two things. His creed and many maxims. John Wooden’s Seven Point Creed was 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.
How many in life were given such powerful guidance at such an early age? More importantly, how many of us would have decided to dedicate their lives around such guidance? Again, we could write a book around his beliefs however we have selected quotes that demonstrate these beliefs and we hope that these quotes will inspire you as they have inspired so many others….
“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
“Never mistake activity for achievement.”
“Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.”
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
“Be prepared and be honest.”
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
“Flexibility is the key to stability.”
“Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
“It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.”
“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”
“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
How strong did he believe? Let’s end with this one story. One day, All-American center Bill Walton showed up with a full beard. “It’s my right,” he insisted. Wooden asked if he believed that strongly. Walton said he did. “That’s good, Bill,” Coach said. “I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them, I really do. We’re going to miss you.” Walton shaved it right then and there. For years, Walton called once a week to tell Coach he loved him.
Sources: JohnWooden.com; Sports Illustrated, LA Times, Wikipedia.