John Wooden

Goodbye Coach Wooden

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This morning our world is missing one of the greatest leaders of any field, legendary U.C.L.A. coach John Wooden. The man who led U.C.L.A. basketball to 10 NCAA titles passed away at the age of 99 yesterday.

Anyone who has ever aspired to be a leader of any sort should have picked up one of his leadership books. Perhaps the greatest leader of all, Wooden’s motivational and coaching techniques made U.C.L.A. basketball a supernova.

Besides leading the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships and winning an incredible 88 games in a row, he left a doctrine on how to live.

His pyramid of success is used as a model by many leaders as a guide for ultimate triumph.

The apex of the pyramid, labeled competitive greatness, is all about as he said when team members are able to “perform at their best when their best is needed.”

His players like Bill Walton, Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Henry Bibby, and Walt Hazzard to name a few, heeded their coach’s stoic words to build U.C.L.A.’s machine that compiled 620 wins during Wooden’s time as head coach.

The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership, featured a section that included Wooden’s team tips. The list was short but effective:

  1. Be thinking at all times.
  2. If you do your best, never lose your temper, and never be out-fought or out-hustled, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
  3. Without faith and courage, you are lost.
  4. Have respect for, without fear of, every opponent, and confidence without cockiness in regard to yourself.
  5. Never be a spectator. Be in the fight at all times.
  6. Unselfish team play and team spirit are two of the foremost essentials of our success.
  7. We have tough battles ahead. Enjoy the thrill of being in a hard fight.
  8. Never stoop to playing dirty-play hard and don’t complain.
  9. Be sure you acknowledge and give credit to a teammate who hits you with a scoring pass or for any fine play he may make.
  10. Be a competitor. When the going gets tough, really get going.

Well said.

To the Wizard of Westwood, we will miss you.

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