Coach

maar01_john_wooden

It is an endless debate, “Who was the best coach ever?”  Was it footballs Vince Lombardi?  The NBA’s Zen master Phil Jackson?  Connie Mack who managed his baseball players to an all-time record number of wins?  Arguably any one of these individuals could make a case for this honor. While all were able to motivate elite level performers to the highest achievements that were humanly possible, there has only been one leader like John Wooden.

Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood” John Robert Wooden was the head basketball coach at UCLA from 1948 to 1975.  During his tenure there he led his teams to a record ten NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships.  Astoundingly, of those ten championships Wooden’s Bruins won seven in a row.  He also holds a number of other collegiate and sporting records that will likely never be broken.  John Wooden certainly has the achievements to be recognized as one of the best of all time.

Wooden’s ability to lead young men to victories on the hardwoods is indisputable.  Was it because he coached on the West Coast and attracted the best talent?  While Wooden had the great fortune to have some incredibly talented players on his teams who went on to huge success playing as professionals, this was not the secret to his success.  Wooden’s teams were victorious not because he had the best players but because he got the best out of his players.  He once said, “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.”

Few other leaders have been able to achieve more with their followers than John Wooden.  A humble man who was committed to hard work and deliberate practice, he created his Pyramid of Success that formed the building blocks that guided him every day.  This pyramid of success has become well recognized not only in the sporting world but by business professionals as well.

It would be easy to fill a bookcase with the books that John Wooden either wrote or contributed to about leadership.  After his retirement, his wisdom and teaching were sought about by many contemporary leadership authors and experts.  This demonstrates that Coach John Wooden reached the pinnacle as a leader.  Not only was he able to produce in his chosen profession, he also developed other leaders.  One of the points of his Seven Point Creed that he lived by was to help others.  In doing so, he was able to transcend being a recognized coach of a game to someone who helped make better leaders.

On June 4, 2010 Coach Wooden passed away, just a little over four months away from celebrating his 100th birthday.  His achievements in basketball will be forever recognized and immortalized.  Although his musings on leadership will be sorely missed he left a legacy for leaders everywhere to aspire to.  What will your legacy be?

Did you ever have a Coach that influenced your life?  What was the greatest lesson that they taught you?

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Mike Stanley

Mike has a passion for leadership! He loves to read, write, discuss and teach on a variety of topics that help individuals and organizations raise their level of leadership. His experiences include being a Captain on the fire department, owning a business and being a founding member of the John Maxwell Team.

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