Apparently, I’ve been carrying around these select nuggets of leadership wisdom from the late, great UCLA basketball coaching legend John Wooden since 2011. And, I’m not even really a sports fan. I’d say my interest ranges from being a casual/social fan when it comes to professional sports to vicarious fandom when my son is on the field.
The “Wooden-ism” fascination all started when I passed by the office of one of the my team members and he had a sticky note on his door that said “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
Knowing the intensity of this particular team member, I stuck my head in his door and asked him about the meaning behind the quote.
At that point, I wasn’t even aware of John Wooden or his tremendous coaching success. By the end of the conversation, I was intrigued and set out to learn more about the legend and his leadership philosophy.
Among other things, I learned that he started each coaching season with “teaching everyone to tie their shoes”. While these college-aged athletes were certainly capable of tying their own laces, he made a point of reinforcing the foundational basics. And, from that common starting ground, he created teams that won 10 national titles in 12 years.
As I continued to dig into his legacy of leadership, I started to bring in the team that I led. I booked a private room at a local pub and we ate junk food and drank beer while we watched the HBO documentary “The UCLA Dynasty”. I started using Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” in one-on-one and group coaching with my team and then I really got hooked when I found the “Wooden-ism” daily calendar. And that was in 2011.
You can see the handful of quotes that have stuck with me. It all started with pausing to ask a question, and I saw a relatable, positive, lasting impact on my leadership style and in my team’s performance.
These are probably my top 3 favorites. I’d love to hear yours.
“It’s not how big you are, it’s how big you play.”
“Little things make big things happen.”
“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”