Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success

John Wooden and Jay Carty collaborated to write Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success: Building Blocks for a Better Life. This book is a series of short chapters that outline the Pyramid success with Wooden describing the life and basketball relates and Carty lending a religious basis. Note: if you are offended by Christianity, this book is not for you. The authors celebrate Bible stories to exemplify their message and faith as a central component. This will turn some people off- you are forewarned.

In a nutshell Wooden's theory of success is measured by trying hard to do your personal best. It is irrelevant if the rest of the world considers you successful or not. You become successful by virtue of working hard to do your best. While Wooden is the winningest college basketball coach of all time, he characterizes his success as having tried hard to do his best and bring out the individual best in the people around him.

You can find information about Wooden's pyramid at his website here. It is a pyramid made of 15 building blocks (industriousness, enthusiasm, friendship, cooperation, loyalty, self-control, alertness, initiative, intentness, condition, skill, team spirit, poise, confidence, and competitive greatness) and 10 mortar qualities (ambition, sincerity, adaptability, honesty, resourcefulness, reliability, fight, integrity, patience, and faith). One of the poignant parts that hits me is team spirit. Wooden worked with many stellar players, but most were just good. He talked about the piece that he found critical was their ability to play together as a team. If one player wanted to be the hotshot, Wooden, worked with him to understand that the whole team was required to win. One player, by himself, no matter how skilled, could not win the game. This is so true of life. We need our teams, our support networks, to be successful. They help us get to the top, survive the rough spots and celebrate the journey.

His idea of competitive greatness certainly applies to basketball, but the authors work hard to showcase it as a condition of life in general. He says, "a person with this quality loves a challenge-- the tougher the better... The tougher the circumstances, the higher they (the sports superstars) rose; and in doing so, they always made those around them better" (p. 86). The idea is that when you are the best you can be, you are helping others to be their best as well. Ultimately, "It's not about winning. It's about learning to give all we have to give" (p. 87). It is not about being a superstar, but being a super you. I love the idea of rising to the top as a group. This explains why coaches in education are so critical- they help the team rise to personal improvement and greatness.

This book is an easy read. It is a wonderful resource on being not just a good coach, but a good person. I know I need to dwell on it to see where improvement needs to occur and then to make it happen.

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