Coach Wooden can teach you how to play, too by thebest11


									                                                 April 5, 2004

                                          worth having. Otherwise you         LESSON NO. 4: Reset your focus.
                                       might waste your entire career            While remaining alert to exter-
                                       marching in the wrong direction.       nal conditions, focus mainly on
                                          Additionally, in defining suc-      yourself and your internal team.
                                       cess, include the process as well         Wooden hardly scouted his op-
                                       as the end results. Are you devel-     ponents. Instead, he emphasized
                                       oping good character and work          the factor within his control:
                                       ethic in the course of pursuing        preparing his players to execute
         CHRIS NELSON                  your goals?                            to the best of their abilities.
           Guest Columnist
                                          As Wooden wrote, “winning              This internal mindset motivat-
                                       games, titles, and championships       ed Wooden to tailor drills for each
Coach Wooden                           isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but
                                       getting there, the journey, is a lot
                                       more than it’s cracked up to be.”
                                                                              player. At the same time, he ran
                                                                              constant exercises to mesh his
                                                                              sometimes prima donna athletes
can teach you                          LESSON NO. 2: Be passionate.
                                          A lukewarm leader is worse
                                                                              into a cohesive, functioning
                                                                                 Shaquille O’Neal, current Lak-
how to play,                           than no leader at all. Be passion-
                                       ate about what you do.
                                          Unless you care enough to
                                                                              ers center, reflected that “John
                                                                              Wooden sat me down in college ...

                                                                              and said, ‘Being great ain’t all
                                       jump into the flames, why should       about scoring and making the
                                       your staff follow when a fire          fantastic play. It’s about how
                                       rages? No one’s a leader if there      everybody else plays around
                                       are no followers.
       I’m a turncoat.
   Call me Benedict Arnold, but
                                          The crux of leadership is gener-
                                       ating passion and enthusiasm.
                                                                                 What’s your focus? In my
                                                                              mind, the truest measure of lead-
even though I root for the USC         Since enthusiasm is contagious,        ership is whether you improve
Trojans in football, once March        being passionate yourself will         the people on your team. Don’t
Madness arrives, you’ll find me        stimulate individuals around you       let external conditions distract
secretly pulling for the UCLA          to ever-higher levels of achieve-      you from making your associates
Bruins.                                ment. In a nutshell, personal pas-     smarter, better, and more produc-
   There’s a simple explanation        sion leads to group enthusiasm,        tive.
for my conflicting team loyalties:     which spawns corporate momen-
John Wooden. I’m a Bruins bas-         tum.                                   LESSON NO. 5: Never stop learn-
ketball fan because of the team’s         A side effect of passion is view-   ing.
legendary coach, “the Wizard of        ing no job as beneath you. I never        To the best of my knowledge,
Westwood.”                             ask my associates to perform a         no one’s discovered a leadership
   As one of the most successful       task I wouldn’t do myself. And         gene; it’s an acquired skill honed
college coaches ever, Wooden           yes, that means that when neces-       over time. Therefore, there’s a
guided UCLA to seven straight          sary I move furniture, stuff en-       simple prescription for better
national titles and 10 overall,        velopes, and answer phones.            leadership: never stop learning.
more than twice as many champi-           Wooden shared this viewpoint.          Learning keeps us from com-
onships as the next best team at       For his first 16 years at UCLA, his    placency and stagnation; it also
the time.                              players practiced in a gym with        encourages humility. None of
   It’s off the court, however,        the gymnastics and wrestling           these traits breeds a perfect
where Wooden’s legend resonates        squads; every day Wooden swept         leader, but they surely produce a
the most. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a       and mopped the floor because of        better one than a know-it-all-al-
three-time NCAA Most Outstand-         the dust the other teams stirred       ready attitude.
ing Player, said it best: “The lead-   up.                                       I can’t believe that John Wood-
ership lessons John taught me                                                 en is now 92. At an age when I’d
                                       LESSON NO. 3: Commit yourself.         be happy just to be alive, he’s
seemed corny when I first heard           Success is a marathon, not a
them. By the time I graduated,                                                writing, speaking, and still learn-
                                       sprint. In consequence, you must
they began to make a little more                                              ing about leadership.
                                       commit yourself to a long, hard
sense. But it was only later, years    journey. As salesman Joe Girard           If the Wizard of Westwood still
after I left UCLA, that they had       wrote, “the elevator to success is     has a few things to discover about
the greatest effect on my life.”       out of order. You’ll have to use       this topic, I’m sure I haven’t even
   That’s as it should be because,     the stairs ... one step at a time.”    scratched the surface. Coach
in my opinion, Wooden coached             Without perseverance and            Wooden may say he’s just “a
more for life than for basketball.     commitment, you’ll stop short of       common man who’s true to his
   While all of Wooden’s wisdom        ultimate leadership success.           beliefs,” but in reality, he’s an un-
would fill several books, there are       Consider Wooden’s trajectory        common example of unequaled
five leadership lessons we can         to a national victory. Although he     leadership.
take off the court for immediate       began coaching at UCLA in 1948,        — Chris Nelson is president of the
application.                           his first national championship        Mixtec Group, a Pasadena, Calif.-
LESSON NO. 1: Define success.          came only in 1960. That’s 13 sea-      based retained executive-search and
   Wooden defined success by           sons of hard work, day in, week        consulting firm specializing in pro-
neither championships earned,          out, year after year. How much         duce. E-mail him at
                                       would Wooden have missed by  
games won, nor points scored.
Instead, disregarding external in-     quitting before his 13th season?
dicators, he described success as         Or, as a more recent example,
the inner peace of mind gained         consider the case of Jim Boeheim.
from knowing you’ve done your          He joined the Syracuse University
best.                                  coaching staff in 1969, but it was
   Have you defined success?           only in 2003 that his team won
Take a moment to pinpoint what         the NCAA basketball champi-
victory means to you. Check that       onship. The lesson is clear: be pa-
the prize you’re chasing is one        tient on the road to success.

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