John Wooden – In early 2003, leadership writer John C. Maxwell fulfilled what he calls a lifelong dream: He spent a few hours in Los Angeles with legendary basketball coach John Wooden, whom he considered his mentor.
Maxwell says that during their time together, Wooden wanted to see a card that he allegedly always carried with him because it dominated his life. Map made of wood. On it was a list his father had given him when he graduated from elementary school. The “Seven Things To Do” list included the following advice: “Make every day your masterpiece.”
On the occasion of his graduation from elementary school, young John Wooden received a piece of paper from his father, Joshua. On one side, his father copied a short poem and his son later summed it up with the words: “Think clearly, have love in your heart, be honest, and trust in God.” On the other hand, he hand-wrote a list of Seven Things to Do. While handing the paper to the child, he simply said, “Son, try to keep these things alive.” The paper remained with the young man until it was torn, after which he transferred its contents to the card.
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In a 2005 interview, the coach shared how these words shaped his daily life. “I tried to live and I tried to teach. I wasn’t always perfect, but I tried.’
A masterpiece is something made with extraordinary skill, and a review of John Robert Wooden’s life journey shows that this maxim is indeed a daily focus.
Born on October 14, 1910, in Hall, Indiana, Wooden was passionate about basketball from an early age. He was a standout player with the skills to lead his high school team to three back-to-back state championship finals and his college team Purdue University Winners to the 1932 national championship. His ability to jump right off the court earned him the nickname “Indiana’s Rubber Man.” According to the official website, Wooden was “one of only two men to appear in the Hall of Fame as a player and a coach.” Equally notable was the Big Ten Award for excellence in scholarship and athletics.
After graduating from Purdue, Wooden played basketball professionally and coached and taught at a number of schools in the American Midwest. He met his wife, Nellie, at a local carnival in 1926. They began their married life with a small ceremony in 1932 and were together until Nellie’s death in March 1985, after a long illness.
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The Wooden family would grow and hold successive coaching positions at various colleges and universities. However, his tenure at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as the Bruins’ head coach from 1948 until his retirement in 1975 secured his status as one of the game’s greatest coaches.
Publisher Al Michaels reminded that Wooden didn’t want to hear others talk about him in this way. “The only thing to blame is you. You shouldn’t have come out and won those 10 national championships in 12 seasons,” Michaels said.
Under Coach Wooden, the Bruins became a nearly unbeatable force in college basketball. It wasn’t just his emphasis on top conditioning that set him apart from most other trainers; it also required high character and values on and off the field. This relentless and persistent focus has resulted in an extraordinary record like no other. A key player in the final years of Wooden’s tenure, Marquez Johnson remembers admiring the record and the legacy it created: I respect him so much – for who he is and what he has accomplished.” Wooden didn’t want to be treated that way; that was the feeling it evoked.
And he wasn’t just talking. He invested in each player to enrich and develop the team as a whole. Following the news of Wooden’s death on June 4, 2010, star player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, “He was more like a father than a trainer. He was indeed a very selfless and selfless man, but he was disciplined. We learned all about the aspects of life that most kids want to miss. He wouldn’t let us do that.” Billy Donovan, head coach of the University of Florida basketball team, said, “John Wooden was a great coach and a great guy. He was a humble man who embodied the best in character and values and exemplifies what coaching means.”
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When the coach retired from professional basketball at the end of the 1975 season, he used his reputation and prestige as a platform to develop leadership skills in others. Wooden expanded his influence beyond the basketball court using a program he called the Pyramid of Success. He developed the pyramid over the years from an idea he had early in his career as a teacher and coach. Finally in 1948, shortly before leaving Indiana State for UCLA, his goal was to encourage students to strive for excellence in their studies. The pyramid consisted of 15 building blocks named after various characteristics such as hard work, loyalty, enthusiasm, ingenuity, and self-control. His goal was to help others with what he believed were the ingredients of true success. “Success is peace of mind,” he said, “a direct result of the self-satisfaction of knowing that you are doing everything you can to be the best you can be.” (See Helping Children Develop Positive Emotions.)
John Wooden was 99 years old when he died. He impressed former players, fans and mentors with his humble enthusiasm and joie de vivre. More impressive, however, was his unnatural ability to look beyond play or lessons at the development of personal character and integrity.
Steve Jamison has worked closely with Coach on books and other writing projects. On their last visit together, she felt the old man fade as she reviewed the final drafts of Wood’s Wisdom: A Century of Family, Faith and Friends. Jamieson describes how he carefully studied the text and photographs that would be incorporated into Wooden’s latest and most personal work. “He was coming home to embark on an incredible journey he’s made for himself – a journey that many agree on that John Wooden is the greatest coach America has ever produced. And an even bigger person.”
Essentially, John Wooden was reviewing his life to see if he was up to the standards passed on to him by his parents years ago. “Make every day your masterpiece.” In many ways, the famous “Wizard of Westwood” lived his life the only way he knew it: as a job of extraordinary skill. DALLAS, November 3, 2016 // — John Wooden was not only the greatest coach of all time, but also a mentor to countless people. The UCLA legend has won a record 10 NCAA men’s basketball championships, but has always argued that success in life isn’t about winning games, it’s about being the best version of yourself. He believed that living a life of love, compassion, balance, and honesty is what truly makes a person successful. Editor Don Yager, co-author of The Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring with John Wooden, explores Coach Wooden’s impact on the world in the December issue of SUCCESS Magazine.
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Coach Wooden has impacted the lives of thousands of people, including athletes, coaches, entertainers and businessmen. BAŞARI explores how the philosophy of the greatest coach of all time continues to influence people today.
“While Wooden’s last victory on the field was taken more than 40 years ago and he died in 2010, his lessons are as relevant today as ever. Coach, as everyone knows, believed that true success is determined not by wins and losses, but by daily self-improvement and giving your best in everything you do.”
SUCCESS has partnered with the Wooden family to bring the coach’s timeless lessons to life as an online training course. Find out how you can realize your full potential for competitive excellence through unparalleled access to coach’s teachings, philosophy and wisdom. Beginning November 15, 2016, the course will show participants how to use the famous Pyramid of Success to develop a championship mindset that will help them achieve any goal.
We’ve also included a treat for readers: This issue includes Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, which you can rip off and hang in your home, office, or anywhere you need daily inspiration. Readers can visit TheWoodenEffect.com to learn more about Coach Wooden’s life lessons in success, team building, and leadership. This online tutorial includes Wooden’s basics in the form of articles, videos, and recommendations.
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