Sunday, June 6, 2010

Basketball Coaching Legend John Wooden (1910-2010)

John Wooden was one of those few people who earned the right to be called a legend during his own lifetime. He nurtured the growth of athletes, teams, other coaches and the game of basketball. He recently passed away at the age of 99, but his presence will continue to be felt, as before.

In a recent issue of "ESPN the Magazine," Rick Reilly wrote about his visit with Wooden. "His Presidential Medal of Freedom hangs next to one from the local YMCA....His letter from Mother Teresa hangs near his great-grandaughter's report card....I like going to Wooden's house for the same reason people like going to church: It makes me want to be a better man."

I've read more than 200 books on leadership, but I have to say that my Number One All-time Favorite is Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization, by legendary basketball coach John Wooden. His credentials: 10 NCAA National Championships in 12 years, an accomplishment that will probably never be equaled.

Whenever Wooden wrote or spoke, he communicated truths that matter. Here are some of my favorites. As I read them, it's easy to imagine him saying these things to individual athletes he was consciously developing into men. His words had power because you knew he lived by them himself.

On CHARACTER - “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is who you really are while your reputation is merely what others think of you.”

On DECISIVENESS "In the end, the choice you make makes you."

On EFFORT - "Personal greatness is not determined by the size of the job, but by the size of the effort one puts into the job."

On LEADERSHIP - "There is no more powerful leadership tool than your own personal example."

On LEADERSHIP - "A leader has a simple mission: to get those under his supervision to consistently perform at their peak level in ways that benefit the team."

On EXCELLENCE - "High performance and production are achieved only through the identification and perfection of small but relevant details - little things done well."

On INTEGRITY - "When you say you'll do it, do it. Don't give your word unless you intend to keep it."

On OPEN-MINDEDNESS - "Surround yourself with people strong enough to change your mind."

On SELF-AWARENESS - "All you need is the will to look hard enough within."

On SELF-DEVELOPMENT“It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

On SELF-DEVELOPMENT - "Don't look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That's the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts."

On SELF-ESTEEM "Don't worry about being better than someone else, but never cease trying to be the best you can become."

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

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