Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hoops are nice and all, but John Wooden got "it"

John Wooden was a really good basketball coach. But I don't think his recent passing should prompt us to look at wins, losses, and championships. The man changed lives. He taught the essentials of life using athletics as his forum.

What he taught was relationships. It should come as no surprise that the five blocks creating the base of his famous "Pyramid of Success" revolve around relating to others: industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and enthusiasm. The base of success is relating to people around us.  He was a leader by understanding not by imposing.

Take notice aspiring Donald Trump's, Gordon Gekko's, and Bernie Madoff's: success has nothing to do with being cut-throat, lying, cheating, manipulating, or stealing. Success may indeed be very simple. If nothing else, Wooden was a proponent of the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have done unto oneself. It really is simple stuff. Ask any of Wooden's teams who opened each season by learning to put their socks on properly. Treat your feet well and you wont lose preparation time to a senseless blister. Elementary my dear Watson.

So while the Wizard of Westwood in fact won a record ten NCAA titles (including seven consecutively), you should also know that he wrote his wife, Nellie, a love letter each month since she passed in 1985. And know that in his biography he wrote, "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." And know that he always called himself a teacher.

He wanted to improve the human condition and aren't we lucky he did just that?

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