Last month I closed off a blog by quoting John Wooden. Of course I knew who John Wooden was, but only after a little research did I find out just what a great man he was.
John Wooden is most remembered for his years as the head basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins. During a 12 year span his team won 10 National Championships in the late 60s into the 70s. This is success even above what we are currently seeing with Nick Saban at Alabama – Roll Tide!
While his success as a coach is beyond greatness, he is remembered as much for his wisdom as he his for his coaching. He was truly a great man in many ways. He lived a life that was dedicated to others, not just his team, but everyone he came in touch with.
It being March, with all eyes turning to the NCAA Basketball tournament, I thought I would share 3 of John Wooden’s principles to live by. The core that drove Coach Wooden’s philosophy was based upon a card that his father gave him when he graduated elementary school.
One side had a verse from Rev. Henry Van Dyke and the other side was titled “Seven Things to Do” which Coach dubbed his seven point creed.
- Be true to yourself
- Help others
- Make each day your masterpiece
- Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible
- Make friendships a fine art
- Build a shelter against a raining day
- Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessing every day
It is no secret that John Wooden was a man of faith. He had a deep faith in God and lived a life showing deep love to others. What I can’t get over is how much he took these 7 points to heart as a child. He let this little card guide him through life and I am convinced that is what made him a great coach and man.
In my research into this great man I found an article written by LSU Hall of Famer Coach Dale Brown. Coach Brown shared a story of when he was first hired on at LSU in 1972 and how he reached out to Coach Wooden for some advice.
Much to his surprise, Coach not only was willing to help, he invited Coach Brown to come out to LA and stay with him in his house for the weekend. Coach Brown knew that this was a chance of a lifetime and came prepared. On a yellow legal pad, he used the alphabet to list all the questions that started with A, then B, then C, and so on. After 2 full days of going through each of these questions with the Coach, he finally made it through Z. Coach Brown had a notebook after notebook full of Wooden’s wisdom.
He goes on to say that after he thanked Coach Wooden they walked out to his car. Coach Wooden mentioned what a delightful time they had and said that he could save LSU some money and Dale Brown some time as there were really only 3 secrets to being a successful coach. The three things were fairly straightforward and simple and I believe we can use them to be more successful in our businesses.
1) Have better players than anyone else
This seems obvious, but do you have a better team than your competition? Do you have the right person for the job? Have you given them the training that they need?
We all have gone into a business and received poor service. We seldom leave and think, wow I cannot wait to go back there again. No, it is normally the total opposite. We make it a point not to return to that business.
Your #1 asset is your staff, your team. You will win when you have the best team.
2) Have players that put their team above themselves
Nothing kills a team like selfishness. In the movie "Miracle" about the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team, Coach Herb Brooks says “All-star teams fail because they rely solely on the individual’s talent”.
A team of good players playing as a team will almost always win over a team of great players playing as individuals. It is important to create a team mentality in your business. Greatness comes through teamwork.
Set your goals based upon the team. Win as a team and lose as a team.
3) Don’t try to over coach (manage), keep it simple
Don’t try to be what you aren’t. Most of us in management are not geniuses or gurus. We are managers whose success depends solely upon our team.
Often people in management positions try too hard and often end up micromanaging. Nothing kills success like some good old fashioned micromanagement.
We don’t know what we don’t know and it is okay to admit this. You can read all of the right books, learn all of the best tactics, and still fail because you confuse your staff with too much information. I find that I get the best out of my team when I put some simple goals in front of them while giving them the ability to track their own success or failure. I trust that each of them are adults and capable of managing themselves. Players want to win but need to know what a win is.
Treat your staff the same way that a successful coach treats his or her team. Keep it simple, don’t over manage. Simply give them all of the training that they need to succeed, a score board to follow, and room to win. The best coach trusts his or her team to get it done during game time as they have their team prepared.