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Need help? Partners MySchool Discovery. Subscribe to our newsletter Some error text Name. I attempted to teach it mainly by my own example. No, there were many reasons. However, I believe the Pyramid played a very important part, just as it played a role in that — season, when we achieved success while losing almost as many games as we won.
The ultimate role of the Pyramid was not to produce championships; championships were a by-product. The score would take care of itself. In all years, except —, it produced UCLA teams that knew what was required to achieve success and then went out and did it. Beyond the Xs and Os of basketball, I wanted the blocks of the Pyramid to define us as a team.
I also hoped it would define me as a leader. The Pyramid of Success 21 Let me share those 15 personal qualities I selected and carefully positioned in the Pyramid of Success. The blocks are not made of red granite or pure limestone but of material much stronger and more durable—material available to you and your team when you look hard enough within yourself and ask those with whom you work to do the same.
A structure is only as strong as its foundation; mine began with two cornerstones that were chosen early in my search. There is no success without them. So I discovered quickly that nothing gets done if you stay in bed. It became one of the Were not attained by sudden flight. You perish. For the Wooden family, hard work was as common as dirt—and dirt is common on a farm. Thus, the first block I chose for the Pyramid of Success—a cornerstone of the foundation—was selfevident: hard work.
I had something else in mind, the kind of work in which you are fully 22 Wooden on Leadership engaged, totally focused, and completely absorbed. There is no clock watching and no punching in and out. Industriousness, for me, means true work. I also knew intuitively that for Industriousness to occur, an equally important quality is required.
Drudgery does not produce champions, nor does it produce great organizations. As a leader, you must be filled with energy and eagerness, joy and love for what you do. If you lack Enthusiasm for your job, you cannot perform to the best of your ability. Success is unattainable without Enthusiasm. Your Enthusiasm does the same for those you lead.
The energy and enjoyment, drive and dedication you exude stimulate the team. Enthusiasm must be real, not phony. False enthusiasm is common and easily detected. If you are faking it, posing and pretending, those under your supervision will spot it and do likewise.
The Pyramid of Success Enthusiasm comes from within and is expressed in different ways. It is not necessarily jumping up and down and making a lot of noise. My high school coach, Glenn Curtis, was very demonstrative in expressing his Enthusiasm. Both men, however, had genuine enthusiasm, and those they supervised were the beneficiaries of this excitement for the game. When they are joined together, Industriousness and Enthusiasm become the driving force, the engine that powers all subsequent blocks of the Pyramid. To my knowledge, the most effective leaders have these qualities in full measure.
Welch transformed the century-old corporation into one of the biggest and most valuable in the world. Importantly, Enthusiasm was at the center of the leadership assets he possessed. Jack Welch loved his job—not liked it, loved it. His Enthusiasm was infectious, and it ignited the spirit and Enthusiasm of those he worked with. I tried to have the same effect on the people I led. Combined, Industriousness and Enthusiasm create an irreplaceable component of great leadership.
Hard work and enthusiasm are contagious. A leader who exhibits them will find the organization does too. While other blocks were selected and discarded or moved to other locations within the Pyramid over the next 14 years, I never considered changing the cornerstone locations for Industriousness and Enthusiasm. You will perish without hard work, without Industriousness.
Industriousness is not possible without Enthusiasm.
Success is unattainable without both of them. Industriousness and Enthusiasm can be realized independently, alone, by yourself. But most of what we do in life, especially sports and business, involves others. Is it wise for a leader to become friends with those under his supervision? Will Friendship hinder correct decision making when hard choices are called for? All are friends in different and good ways—but not in the way I mean Friendship. The two qualities of Friendship so important for a leader to possess and instill in team members are respect and camaraderie.
To me these are the most noteworthy characteristics of true Friendship as it pertains to leadership. Camaraderie is a spirit of goodwill that exists between individuals and members of a group—comrades-in-arms. Those under your leadership will do the same if you show them this part of yourself. Contrast that situation with a leader who lacks camaraderie and respect for and from those in the organization.
Which leader will get the most out of the team? The difference is immense. Thus, I sought and valued these two particular qualities of Friendship in my relationship with individuals on the team. Affection, in fact, may weaken it by causing you to play favorites.
I tried extremely hard not to have favorites, even though there were many players over the years for whom I did have great affection. I did not want my personal feelings—liking a person or not— to be apparent, to give the appearance of favoring one over another.
I was not always successful in my endeavor. John Ecker, a player I liked perhaps as much as any I ever coached, told me years later he thought I disliked him while he was a member of our team. Respect and the spirit of goodwill that it engenders further strengthen your bond with those you lead. Friendship, as I have defined it, does not preclude professionalism. First and foremost, you are their leader, not their buddy. Such a perception can be very destructive. Leadership is an imperfect science, and I have my share of imperfections.
Nevertheless, while mistakes made in the process of trying to do the right thing may hurt, they should cause no guilt or shame. Seeking to create a team that shares camaraderie and respect—Friendship—is the right thing to do. It is also part of the nature of great teams and those who lead them.
It is impossible to be a good leader without Loyalty to your organization—your team—just as it impossible to be a good citizen without Loyalty to your country. You must, of course, have the courage to be loyal to those you lead. Doing so is not always easy. The Pyramid of Success 27 It starts, however, with Loyalty to yourself—your standards, your system, your values.
A leader who has Loyalty is the leader All that we send out to others, whose team I wish to be a part of. And so Comes back into our own. It comes when those you lead see and experience that your concern for their interests and welfare goes beyond simply calculating what they can do for you— how you can use them to your advantage. I believe most people, the overwhelming majority of us, wish to be in an organization whose leadership cares about them, provides fairness and respect, dignity and consideration. Do so and you find Loyalty in abundance from those you lead. You will find yourself in charge of an organization that will not waffle in the wind.
You will find a group of individuals who will stay committed even when things get tough. First, be true to yourself and your core values. Then be true to those under your leadership. It involves so many crucial aspects of life, including the mental, emotional, and financial. Outside of marriage itself, the professional team you lead can be the strongest connection in your life. For that to happen, you must be true to yourself and your team. You must have Loyalty. And when you have it, you will get it from your team. The ego gets in the way of your eyes and ears. An effective leader understands that it is a sign of strength to welcome honest differences and new ways of thinking from those on your team as well as from others.
Cooperation is impossible if we refuse to consider the merits of contrary opinions. A dictator-style leader has all the answers and no questions. This kind of boss demands performance according to unbending and unchanging personal ideas. And, it can work. However, a leader who incorporates the productive ideas and creativity of others makes it work better.
When you carry a rifle, it is unnecessary to listen and learn, change and grow—prerequisites for good leadership. I note, however, there is one similarity between a prison guard and a leader: Both have the final word. When a decision is made, it must be accepted by those on your team, or they must be encouraged to find another team.
Cooperation—the sharing of ideas, information, creativity, responsibilities, and tasks—is a priority of good leadership. The only thing that is not shared is blame. A strong leader accepts blame and gives the credit. A weak leader gives blame and accepts the credit. In basketball one of the undervalued acts that I valued most was the assist—helping a team member to score. The assist in basketball epitomizes Cooperation. The assist is valuable in all organizations, helping someone to do her or his job better. The Pyramid of Success starts with the powerful cornerstone of Industriousness.
Success requires hard work. Absent the quality of Industriousness, you will fail as a leader. Commit to work hard and then stay committed until you are able to identify a single great leader who achieved success without it. You will not find one. There Is No Substitute for Enthusiasm.
A leader needs a fire-in-the-belly drive in order to ignite the team. Few will follow someone who seems to lack fervor for a challenging 29 30 Wooden on Leadership job. To spark others to extraordinary performance levels, you need authentic Enthusiasm. It cannot be forced or faked. You must truly welcome—embrace—the trials and tribulations of competition. They understand how much more can be accomplished if no one cares who gets credit.
The interpersonal characteristics of Friendship camaraderie and respect , Loyalty, and Cooperation create the sincere and solid bond necessary between you and those you lead. These are qualities that must be nurtured in your organization. Put them in place, and you will have built a foundation that will eventually bring forth success. You may agree that this is a strong lineup for your starting five. I view these five personal qualities as being essentially values of the heart and spirit, less cognitive than those that make up the second tier, which is the focus of this chapter.
What follows is less about heart and more about the head; more specifically, how you put your head to use as an effective leader. For many, the first block is the most challenging. Staying there, many say, is even more difficult. My own experience is that both getting there and staying there present unique and formidable challenges.
To do either requires great Self-Control. I view consistency as a trademark of the true competitor and effective leader. They are not two separate entities, and leaders who act as if they are will likely bring difficulties upon themselves. It starts with control of your emotions, but it also extends to having the resolve to resist the easy choice, the expedient solution, and, at times, temptation in its various and alluring forms.
Self-Control in little things leads to control of bigger things. For example, the reason I prohibited profanity—a small issue—during practices was because it was usually caused by frustration or anger. Forcing a player to monitor and control his language was a useful device for teaching control of oneself. Our players were well disciplined over the years because I believed and taught that a team lacking Self-Control will get outplayed and, usually, outscored.
How did I teach this block of the second tier—Self-Control? First, by stating clearly that I prized consistency and that SelfControl was necessary to achieve it. Second, I did not tolerate behavior that demonstrated lack of control on the part of any player. On those occasions when an individual violated this dictum, he quickly found there was a price to pay. But, in large part I tried to teach it using the same method that worked well for my father: his own example.
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Dad had steely control of himself, and I sought the same in my leadership. He taught Self-Control by having it. For example, in my 40 years of coaching you will not find a player who can honestly tell you that he heard me use profanity. I demanded it of myself and taught the same to those under my leadership. In fact, as I watched a game unfold there would occasionally be an almost guilty pleasure in seeing our team exert enough pressure to cause the opponent to lose control. I never wanted to see the situation reversed. I viewed Self-Control as a sixth Bruin out on the court.
This gave us quite an advantage. The team must understand that Self-Control is highly prized; loss of control will not be tolerated. A team with good discipline is simply a reflection of a self-disciplined leader. What all our teams had in common was not height, but quickness—physical quickness, of course, but also something of equal value: mental quickness, that is, Alertness. You must constantly be awake, alive, and alert in evaluating yourself as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your organization and your competitors. In sports today, we see instantaneous adjustments during play—film, photos, and spotters in the booths with binoculars providing immediate information to coaches and players during the game.
Should it be different with you and your organization? The same sense of urgent observation—Alertness—must exist in you and be taught to those under your supervision. Their common refrain? Alertness makes this possible, and it is a trait common to those who lead organizations that consistently stay ahead of the competition. Basketball is played between the ears as much as between the lines. This is true for your organization. Alertness is a potent weapon for a leader—a great attribute.
An alert leader creates an organization filled with people who pay attention, are openminded, and strive always for improvement. This is true in sports, and it certainly is true in business. They see things before others because they make it a habit to be on guard, alert for early signs and signals that necessitate adjustments along the way. They are quick to see weaknesses in their organization and correct them and quick to see a weakness in the competition and take advantage of it.
The same is true for any organization. The kinds of mistakes he was referring to are not the result of carelessness or sloppiness but the result of assertive action based on proper assessment of risk. In sports, action often must be taken instantaneously to capitalize on opportunity. In every organization, time is of the essence when opportunity knocks. Many leaders instinctively behave like a young college basketball player who picks up three quick fouls in the first half and becomes tentative and timid. A coach will sit this player on the bench before he can hurt the team.
The tentative business leader, however, stays in the contest, to the eventual detriment of the group. Hesitancy, indecisiveness, vacillation, and fear of failure are not characteristics I associate with good leadership. I applied this same advice to my own actions. Do not be afraid of mistakes, even of failure. Use good judgment based on all available information and then use Initiative. The leader who has a fear of failure, who is afraid to act, seldom will face success.
The former are calculated to make things happen; the latter, mistakes of omission, result too often from trepidation, fear of doing something wrong, just like the basketball player who picks up three quick fouls in the first half. I rarely, if ever, criticized a player who tried in an intelligent way to make things happen out on the court, even when he failed. The same standard applies to leadership.
A leader must have Initiative—the courage to make decisions, to act, and the willingness and strength to risk failure and take a stand even when it goes against the opinion of others. Mistakes, even failure, can be permissible so long as they do not result from carelessness or poor preparation. Losing can provide learning, thus preventing future errors. Dare to stand alone. Dare to have purpose firm, Dare to make it known. That poem could be entitled Initiative. Without this block of the Pyramid, you will soon be passed by the competition whose leader has the courage of his convictions and the will to act on them—a leader with Initiative.
Without it you will falter, fade, and quit. All these traits are Might well have added this to it, present in great leaders. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. A leader lacking Intentness will find himself or herself leading a team intent on giving up. Intentness also implies a firm resolve to stay the course over the long term rather than meandering all over the place in bursts of short-lived activity. Intentness keeps you in the game even when others tell you the game is over. The game is over only when the leader declares it so. Good things take time, usually lots of time.
Achieving worthwhile goals requires Intentness. Does the fight continue? The team will look to you for the answer. When thwarted, you go over, under, or around. Perhaps you do the same thing again—only better and harder. In the face of severe adversity, this conduct is only possible with Intentness, the willingness to persevere when hardship is forced upon you and those you lead. I had Intentness for 28 years as a coach at the high school and college level—intent on doing my best to help others do their best.
In my twenty-ninth year of coaching, something remarkable occurred: UCLA won a national championship. Intentness was required for this to happen. Industriousness and Enthusiasm are a powerful combination, essential to Success. But the great force they produce must be constant, ongoing, relentless, and unremitting—Intentness. Two tiers of the Pyramid are now in place. Think for just a moment about what each of the nine qualities I have described means to your leadership.
Before we continue the journey, try to put these plays into your own playbook. There is never an excuse for violating this imperative, and when you do, your credibility and consistency as a leader diminish accordingly. Make Alertness a habit.
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The most effective leaders think two or three steps ahead. They know the details of their business and constantly monitor their surroundings, the inner workings of their organizations, their competitors, and anything else likely to affect the performance of their team. Even well-reasoned actions can fail. Mistakes and failed action are part of progress. An effective leader understands this—accepts it— and strives to make sure those missteps are not caused by sloppiness, haste, or poor judgment.
Furthermore, when you punish your people for making a mistake or falling short of a goal, you create an environment of extreme caution, even fearfulness. Losing focus, giving a half-hearted effort, or quitting before the task is complete are all hallmarks of those who aspire to, but never acquire, success. Few things are more important—especially in challenging times—than leadership that personifies Intentness, an unremitting determination to press on. Ward Lambert was a revolutionary who was, in part, responsible for changing the way the game of basketball was played.
Coach Lambert loved speed. However, in his early days the basketball was bigger and the game slower, not far after the era in which a jump ball followed every single field goal. It was start and stop, scores were low, and shots few and far between. Coach Lambert was one who challenged and changed this old style of basketball. He taught us to compete at a furious pace with no stalling, timeouts, or slowdowns: Get the ball; run the ball; shoot the ball.
Then get the ball again and do it all over again. He made us do this over and over throughout every practice and game. Few teams were playing basketball at the speed Ward Lambert demanded, and I was his principal speedster. During the season while other players might go through two or three pair of tennis shoes, I wore out one pair of Chuck Taylor Converse tennis sneakers almost every week. Some laughed at me for doing this, but I understood from personal experience the absolute necessity of taking care of your feet—how folds, creases, and wrinkles could cause blisters that distract and then diminish performance.
I adopted his style of basketball when I began coaching and kept to it for the 40 seasons that followed. But I also realized these same three qualities transcended the game of basketball. Successfully applied, they had the potential to teach what it takes to achieve success off the court, in life and in leading any type of organization or team. Their importance is such that I placed them directly in the middle of my Pyramid of Success—at the center of the structure.
However, in choosing The Heart of the Pyramid Condition as a quality for the center of my Pyramid, I went well beyond physical conditioning. How does one attain moral Condition? This advice, easy to remember, is also very effective. To help them understand what I meant— that accountability was their responsibility—I occasionally posted the following reminder on our bulletin board or recited it to individuals about whom I had special concerns: There is a choice you have to make, in everything you do.
So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you. This is as true in business as it is in sports. The leader must set the example, not only in areas of right and wrong—character, of course—but elsewhere. Workaholics, for example, lack balance. Imbalance, in my opinion, is a weakness that sooner or later causes problems. The first problem is likely to be inconsistency in performance. Thus, in my own life I tried hard to keep my job, coaching basketball and for many years teaching English, from taking over other areas of life such as family and friends.
I strongly believe a good leader has the correct priorities and seeks good balance. Endlessly working 24 hours a day, seven days a week is an imbalanced set of priorities and eventually hurts your performance in all areas. When you hurt yourself, you hurt your team.
Being in good mental and moral Condition is crucial to strong leadership. It starts with good physical Condition, because a leader lacking it is less likely to summon the strength to stand up and fight for beliefs, ideals, and standards. You may have observed how those who weaken themselves physically often fall prey to an assortment of lapses in the area of good judgment. Imbalance in one or the other creates vulnerability in both. Physical fitness is crucial. So is mental and moral fitness. The Heart of the Pyramid is essential to being a consistently effective and productive leader. SKILL Fundamentals for Coach Lambert meant having a comprehensive knowledge of the Xs and Os and physical mechanics of basketball— where to go and when to go there, how to shoot correctly, and more.
Thus, Skill is at the heart of the Pyramid. You must know all facets of your job—not just parts of it—and be able to execute quickly and correctly. Being prepared to do all that your job requires will quickly separate you and your organization from much of the competition. I saw many coaches who could teach offense but who were limited in their knowledge of defense. Whether in basketball or business, you must be able to perform all aspects of your job, not just part of it. The range of skills necessary for leadership, of course, differs from job to job and organization to organization.
Those skills required to manage a small business differ from those needed to lead a Fortune company, just as skills needed for coaching basketball differ from those necessary for coaching baseball. But regardless of the specific skills required in a profession, you must master all of them. Unless the leader communicates this up and down the line—and puts mechanisms in place to ensure it gets done—your team will not be at percent in its performance level.
The best leaders are lifelong learners; they take measures to create organizations that foster and inspire learning throughout. I recognized this fact quickly when I began my career as a basketball coach. While I understood the fundamentals necessary for playing the game, I had little understanding of the second part of my job, namely, the ability to teach the fundamentals of basketball.
Once I recognized this, I set out on a journey to educate myself to become a better teacher. That, in turn, made me a better leader. I wanted to be able both to get open and to shoot. I wanted my skills to be as complete as possible. Coach Lambert called it unity, a good word, but I wanted a more expressive description of this valuable quality so directly The Heart of the Pyramid linked to the success of an organization.
Teamwork is an obvious choice of words, but it suggested to me a cold efficiency in performance, something akin to a well-oiled machine, everybody doing his or her job correctly. Of course, there is nothing wrong with everybody doing his or her job correctly, but I sought something more. I wanted a powerful and efficient machine, but one that also had heart and soul. The words I chose to describe the presence of this powerful block are Team Spirit. Nevertheless, I left the description in place for several years. When it came to Team Spirit, willingness was not enough; eagerness was the exact description of what I sought in myself and in those I coached.
A willingness to be selfless suggests a begrudging aspect of doing what is required for the team. I wanted each player to be eager to sacrifice personal interests for the good of the group. To me, there is all the difference in the world between willingness and eagerness. Thus, I changed that single word in the definition. Members of such an organization are unselfish, considerate, and put the goals of the organization above their own, even at the expense of their own personal desires.
When this happens—and the leader is the one who makes it happen—the result is almost magical. It is so because it creates a deep desire on the part of each individual to do everything within his or her power to improve and strengthen the organization.
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Team Spirit has the potential to increase the productivity of your organization exponentially: Your team becomes greater than the sum of its players; the organization greater than the number of employees on its payroll. Each individual revels in the glory of the group rather than the glory of the individual.
Team Spirit was difficult to teach when I was coaching, perhaps even more so today, although I doubt it. Television has made actors—stars—out of many players, coaches, officials, and referees. In similar fashion, in recent years some CEOs have become media personalities whose own star, they seem to believe, shines brighter than the organizations they lead. Finding the right players who put the interests of the team ahead of their own involves probing for the qualities discussed in this and the previous two chapters.
It also requires finding mature individuals who understand that what helps the organization ultimately helps them. The Heart of the Pyramid There is only one star that counts: the team. Any organization whose leader seeks stardom at the expense of the team is one I would not want to join, regardless of the paycheck.
That attitude goes against everything I believe about effective leadership and great teams. The presence of such an individual weakens the team and makes it vulnerable during competition to a disciplined group filled with Team Spirit. Each has a unique purpose, and there is logic behind its position in the pyramid. Industriousness and Enthusiasm make up the foundation; they must be present at the outset, or nothing will be accomplished.
They power all that follows. To them we must add the qualities of the heart—Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation—which allow you to create a powerful and honest bond with those in your organization. Have the courage to offer them, and they will, in turn, be offered back. Considered in isolation, this third tier of values constitutes a remarkable set of personal assets. Now, something quite powerful is about to occur. Each of these 12 blocks is necessary, in my opinion, for leaders and organizations to excel, to become extraordinary.
However, these qualities do not come easily. Great results come only with great effort. The Pyramid of Success is no exception. However, when you have given your best to assemble these three tiers, they will, in turn, give something significant back to you: a rich and rewarding harvest, one that will take you and your organization the rest of the way. POISE I define poise as being true to oneself, not getting rattled, thrown off, or unbalanced regardless of the circumstance or situation. Leaders when all about you lacking Poise panic under pressure. Are losing theirs and Poise means holding fast to your beliefs blaming it on you.
Kipling less of how bad or good the situation may be. Poise means having a brave heart in all circumstances. The competitive environment increasingly challenges your composure and equanimity as the stakes increase and the challenges to you and your organization mount. Few characteristics are more valuable to a leader than Poise, especially when she or he is under pressure. How do you acquire Poise?
Poise acquires you. It is part of the harvest you reap near the top of the Pyramid. In spending many years thinking about the requirements necessary for success, I was eventually startled to see that when an individual acquires and implements the first 12 hard-won blocks of the Pyramid, a fourth tier arrives unexpectedly and without fanfare. Suddenly it is there, part of you and your leadership style and substance: Poise. In effect, Poise is a powerful gift from the Pyramid of Success. And, where you find Poise you will also find its valuable companion, which I placed next to it near the top of the Pyramid.
Real abiding Confidence, like Poise, is earned only by tenaciously pursuing and attaining those assets that allow you to reach your own level of competency—the potential you have within. For me, those assets are contained and provided by the Pyramid of Success. Arrogance, or elitism, is the feeling of superiority that fosters the assumption that past success will be repeated without the same hard effort that brought it about in the first place. Thus, I have never gone into a game assuming victory.
All opponents have been respected, none feared. I taught those under my supervision to do the same. In fact, the quality of our opponent had nothing to do with my own Confidence. The other team was not part of my equation. Rather, I drew strength, Confidence, from the sure knowledge that I had done all things possible to prepare myself and our team to perform at our highest level in competition. The opponent might perform at a higher level—or not. Success requires Poise and Confidence.
They come with proper preparation. Acquiring the personal characteristics and values of the Pyramid, I believe, constitutes proper preparation. When you have made the effort to prepare to the fullest extent of your ability—and do not underestimate the great challenge of proper and complete preparation—you will reap the crowning block of the Pyramid of Success.
They have done so because only in that supreme effort is there an opportunity to summon your best, The Heart of the Pyramid a personal greatness that cannot be diminished, dismissed, or derided because of a final score or bottom line. Competitive Greatness is not defined by victory nor denied by defeat. At the exact moment when the going gets tough, the thrill of competition gets going for a leader who has acquired Competitive Greatness.
I believe this is one of the most crucial concepts you can convey to those within the organization, namely, a love for the hard bat- 53 54 Wooden on Leadership tle, and the test it provides against a worthy opponent. The hard struggle is to be welcomed, never feared. In fact, when you define success this way, the only thing to fear is your own unwillingness to make the full, percent effort to prepare and perform at the highest level of your ability.
A leader who is a Great Competitor teaches the organization the same thing. When you have achieved Competitive Greatness, you have arrived at the top, prepared to bring out your best in yourself and your team. You are ready for whatever the battle brings. And where the barriers my wait, built up by the opposing Gods, He finds a thrill in bucking fate and riding down the endless odds.
Where others wither in the fire or fall below some raw mishap, Where others lag behind or tire and break beneath the handicap. He finds a new and deeper thrill to take him on the uphill spin, Because the test is greater still, and something he can revel in. The struggle itself, the test, is what gives value to the prize and is something the competitive leader truly revels in.
It is your responsibility to pass this on to those under your leadership. Thus, I added mortar at the top of the Pyramid in the form of Patience and Faith. At the apex they are symbolic and remind us that these two qualities must be present throughout the Pyramid, holding the blocks and tiers firmly in place. A leader must have Faith that things will work out as they should—a boundless belief in the future.
A wise leader also knows that accomplishing important things takes time. If difficult goals could be achieved quickly, more people would be achievers. But, most people, and many leaders, lack real Patience. With that as your standard you will not fail. The 15 personal qualities, these durable blocks of the Pyramid, if embraced and acted upon, will elevate you and your organization to success. SUCCESS As a teacher, coach, and leader, my goal was always to help those under my leadership reach the ultimate level of their competency, 55 56 Wooden on Leadership both individually and as productive memwhich is a direct result of selfbers of our team.
Success is my subject matter. Only you can answer that question now and in the future. Am I a Success? I believe I am, but not because of any final scores, titles, or championships. Instead, define yourself and those you lead by the qualities and characteristics of the Pyramid and its definition of Competitive Greatness and Success. The Heart of the Pyramid me. Furthermore, my success comes not from championships, but the knowledge that I did everything possible to be the best teacher, coach, and leader I was capable of being.
The quality of that effort is where I found—and continue to find—success. Throughout my career I did not allow others to make me adopt their standard, their definition of what constitutes success. That is the standard I have applied for most of my professional life, in preparing myself and others for competition, over many years of teaching, coaching, and leadership. Did I succeed? Today, when I look back over those decades, I can hold my head high just like I wanted our players to do when they walked off the court after a game or practice.
For me the foundation of my own leadership—who I am—is contained in the Pyramid of Success. The teams that compete at the highest level love the thrill of the contest. They may have winning in their heads, but they have a love for the effort and struggle in their hearts.
A strong leader inspires teams to relish the competition itself and view the outcome as a byproduct—an important by-product, yes, but still a by-product. This is why conditioning—physical, mental, and moral—is so important. A leader must impress upon his or her team the paramount importance of ownership and personal accountability. Only you, the leader can and should define the finish line—Success. Others will attempt to force their definition upon you.
Define it properly, and Success along with Competitive Greatness will belong to you and your team. No team will consistently succeed unless the leader is able to achieve this critical goal. I was a good free throw shooter back then, and at one point over a period of many, many games sank in a row. When I sank the one-hundredth free throw, Mr. Kautsky asked the officials to stop the game momentarily. Then he walked out onto the court and announced to the crowd that he was rewarding me for making straight free throws with a brand new one hundred dollar bill.
Of course, the crowd loved it and so did Nellie Wooden, who was soon holding the money for safekeeping. Keep in mind that Mr. Kautsky had no obligation to pay me anything extra for making or 1, straight free throws. It was not part of our agreement, nor did I expect even an extra penny for doing my job as best I could.
A couple of years later I started the season playing for another team because it was based closer to home. Early in the season we were scheduled to play in Cleveland, and at the last minute I decided to drive there with a teammate who needed a ride. Unfortunately, we got caught in a blizzard along the way and were slowed down to about 10 miles an hour on a narrow highway caked with ice and snow. After a few hours of torturous driving I stopped at a filling station to call our team owner in Cleveland to explain our predicament and let him know that we might be late for the game.
We both suited up quickly, and when the game resumed I was on the court, played well, and helped our team come out on top. Afterward, I showered and went in to collect my pay from the owner, who, thanks to the victory, was wearing a big smile on his face. We needed you in the game to win. My friend and I had risked our lives driving through that snowstorm for him, and I had then helped his team secure victory. But, as I learned when he handed me the money, all this meant very little to him; it meant a lot to me.
His values were not my values. Otherwise, I was heading home. There was some hesitation, but he realized that he needed me on court the following day because they expected a full house and a boisterous crowd. The owner paid up even though it was clear to me he did it grudgingly. After the game I resigned and signed up again with the Kautskys, a team run by a leader with a decent set of values, someone I respected and who respected me and what I was willing to give to his team, namely, everything I had.
What happened in Cleveland taught me a good lesson. I saw how character—doing the right thing—is fundamental to successful leadership. It became more and more apparent over the years of my own coaching, including for UCLA. He was, however, in my opinion, the most valuable player in the history of the college game. During his three years on the varsity team, the Bruins won three consecutive NCAA championships and 88 of the 90 games on our schedule.
Nevertheless, he scored 31 points, with 21 rebounds against the NCAA national basketball champions. His presence obviously had a profound, positive, and lasting impact on our program. But before it did, something had a profound impact on Lewis. He was also an outstanding student who came from a good home. Col- Good Values Attract Good People leges and universities nationwide courted him with such abandon, lavishing praise and promises on the gifted seven-foot two-inch student-athlete, that, at times, it perhaps bordered on the embarrassing.
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However, Abe Lemons, the great Oklahoma basketball coach, told me later he would never have Lewis on his team after what the young man said to him when offered a scholarship. Throughout my career I had a policy of doing virtually no off-campus recruiting of student-athletes. In those rare instances when I did visit a young man and his family at their home—perhaps 10 or 12 over a period of 29 years as a college coach—it had to be preceded by an inquiry directly from them or someone speaking on their behalf.
I would not make the first move to meet a prospective student, and Lewis was no exception. I believe my policy, in effect, helped keep things in perspective for the young man. If any selling was going to be done, I preferred to have the young athletes try and sell me something; let them take the initiative, reach out and contact us. That would serve as a good indication they had a strong desire to come to UCLA and be a part of our team.
My policy of not contacting players had its downside, of course, but one with which I was willing to live. Before I talked to an individual about joining us, I first wanted to see evidence of his desire to be a part of the Bruins. The last thing you want is people in your organization who had to be talked into being there, who needed convincing that your team was worthy of them.
Recruiting should be a two-way street. While I would have been interested in having either, or both, of them join us at UCLA, I was not contacted by them or by anyone speaking on their behalf. Subsequently, Wilt attended Kansas, and Bill went to the University of San Francisco, where he led the team to victory against us in the NCAA regionals on their way to a second consecutive national championship. Coach Donahue went on to say that his young student-athlete had narrowed the list of colleges he was considering down to five.
UCLA was on his short list. I agreed. At the clinic, Coach Donahue asked a few questions about our program at UCLA and told me about Lewis—his family, academic achievements, attitude, work ethic, ability to get along with team members, and more. Coach Donahue said he would pass my request along to Lewis and his family.
During his trip to our campus—even though it rained the whole time—Lewis realized that we had much to offer, including a new sports facility, Pauley Pavilion. Nevertheless, other schools had good basketball programs and excellent facilities. In other words, he had a number of alternatives—many fine schools and opportunities— when it came to making a decision on his future.
There were several reasons, but four in particular resonated with the young man and his parents. All four reasons had to do with their values. He was its president. UCLA students, predominantly white, had elected a black student to represent them. There were other schools with the same ideals, of course, but on that night, Ed Sullivan provided visible evidence to the Alcindors of what UCLA stood for. Student-athletes who attended our school received a good education. And they graduated. Credible, heartfelt testimonials: Lewis had also received a letter from a former UCLA basketball player who vouched for the ideals and standards of our school.
It came from the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Ralph Bunche, who had written on his own initiative. Bunche was black. Jackie Robinson, the first black professional baseball player in the major leagues, had also written a letter expressing similar sentiments. Values and standards, ideals and principles mattered to Lewis and his parents, Cora and Lewis, Sr.
They also mattered at UCLA and to me. Good values are like a magnet—they attract good people. A prison guard does that. Let me be clear: Results matter. They matter a great deal. This is the kind of person who is quick to quit in tough times, eager to leave when offered a better chance of winning or making more money elsewhere. A person who values winning above anything will do anything to win. And such people are threats to their organizations.
Character counts, and without it even the most talented individual is hamstrung—a potential danger to the team. I wanted to run the race with those with whom I shared a code of conduct, those who subscribed to the same set of values that mattered to me. But one of the primary ways to ensure it occurs is to make your values visible, to let the outside world—potential employees and others—know what you stand for and who you are.
In doing so, you will attract those who share similar principles and standards—your code of conduct for competition. For me, of course, the Pyramid of Success defined the code of conduct and characteristics that I valued, both on and off the court. Nevertheless, it was behavior I expected, and taught, to all I coached.
Deeds count more than words, but words count too. You may have to take steps to ensure that people know what you stand for. I handed out copies of the Pyramid of Success at the start of each season and had a big drawing of it hanging in the office. Find the means and methods that work for you, depending upon your industry and organization. What is your version of the Ed Sullivan Show and the testimonial letter of Dr. Ralph Bunche? Basketball players would often take home their cotton UCLA practice T-shirts as souvenirs to wear around campus and elsewhere.
For some reason, those T-shirts were very popular. I viewed it differently. It made me feel bad to look the other way while individuals I cared about were doing something wrong.
I thought it mattered, and I still do. I also have no doubt that others changed their behavior for the good because of my words. Furthermore, knowing I would take a stand on this issue gave players an insight into my value system and what I stood for. I wanted to create good habits in those under my leadership, not only in the mechanics of playing basketball, but also in the fundamentals of being a good person. Thus, a small issue such as putting towels in the towel basket where they belonged was something I viewed as big, something that connected to my overall principles and beliefs—values—that went beyond just picking up after yourself.
A student-athlete who feels so privileged that he can throw things on the floor while a student manager follows behind clean- Good Values Attract Good People ing up the mess has a bad habit, one that contributes to selfishness, sloppiness, and disrespect—three character traits I particularly dislike. By requiring each student-athlete to pick up after himself, I may have encouraged a positive habit, good behavior, and a way of thinking that carried over to the court and our team. It was my hope that some of my teaching might even carry over to what the players did in their lives after basketball.
Character starts with little things 73 74 Wooden on Leadership like picking up after oneself, and it ends with big things like not cheating to win. A leader with character attracts talent with the same. Think of the quality of human resources on your team when they adhere to your high ideals and standards. This is a terrible mistake for a leader to make. Thus, I believe who you are inside—what you believe—is important, but what you do means more, much more. Warsoft, sensitive or assertive, ren Bennis, a professor of business adminisbut about a set of tration at USC and founding chairman of attributes.
First and the Leadership Institute, says it like this: foremost is character. First and foremost is character. In part, this is why Lewis Alcindor, Jr. From a variety of sources he learned that his values were our values. I once interviewed a very talented young man who wanted to attend UCLA on a basketball scholarship. I was even prepared to offer him a scholarship during our meeting. His mother was there, and at one point she politely asked me a question.
Just keep your mouth shut and listen to what the coach says. In fact, it was unacceptable to me: disrespect for his mother. I politely ended the meeting and excused myself. The scholarship was never offered. The individual who had been so rude to his mother went on to play for another school and did very well.