Lessons on Leadership from
John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success
Some of you may have never heard of John Wooden until I highlighted his book, Wooden on Leadership, in my books on leadership blog so I thought it would be very worthwhile to dedicate a blog to this amazing man.
Coach Wooden has been called the greatest college coach ever thanks to a long list of accomplishments, including a record 10 NCAA Basketball Championship titles. But for him, it’s not about the number of wins and losses: It’s about how the game is played.
I know you’ve likely heard me say that we don’t need to re-invent the wheel here. There are so many leaders whose examples we can follow. I look for mentors in people who look at or define success the same way I do… and most importantly, who EXEMPLIFY it in all they do.
Wooden coined his definition of success as, “Peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”
Wooden’s Pyramid of Success has absolutely nothing to do with winning or losing (or even basketball) and everything to do with being the best YOU that you can be. In fact, when you look at the pyramid, you’ll see the cornerstones, those that hold the weight of the pyramid, are enthusiasm and industriousness. Basically, your hard work and attitude/excitement are the cornerstones to success. And from there, it’s all about preparation.
“I’m not going to be talking to you about winning or losing because I think that’s a byproduct of our preparation. I would much rather be focused on the process of becoming the best team we’re capable of becoming.”
– John Wooden
To help you on this journey of becoming the best YOU that you can be, I’m listing the 12 Lessons in Leadership that can be found under the pyramid in the image at the top of the blog. I also encourage you to click on that image and print it out so you can post it where you can see it daily. Review it, review yourself, decide if you’re doing your absolute best each day . . . and I promise, your self-improvement will be exponential!
12 Lessons on Leadership from John Wooden
#1. Good values attract good people. Be a leader of value, and you’ll attract the same.
#2. Love is the most powerful four-letter word. Be supportive. Don’t lead by fear.
#3. Call yourself a teacher. The best leaders are teachers. Show them what you want done and take time to mentor.
#4. Emotion is your enemy. Manage your emotion versus letting them manage you.
#5. It takes 10 hands to make a basket. OK, this one is specific to basketball, but the lesson is important in life. You need everyone to contribute if you’re going to be successful as a team.
#6. Little things make big things happen. This is about discipline and practice. The little things are important. Ignoring the details will hurt you in the end. This reminds me of the book, The Slight Edge. Doing a little every day over and over again gives you a slight edge.
#7. Make each day your masterpiece. Give your best every single day.
#8. The carrot is mightier than the stick. Incentives and praise are was more powerful than fear and punishment.
#9. Make greatness attainable by all. People want to succeed. In fact, they want to be great. Make sure you give them an opportunity.
#10. Seek significant change. Wooden says, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” Set your goals high.
#11. Don’t look at the scoreboard. Again, this sounds like it applies only to basketball, but that’s not the case at all. In a world that looks for instant gratification, you can get caught up in checking and managing short-term results. Make sure you prepare well, work hard, and set your goals high. Do that and the long-term results will be there.
#12. Adversity is your asset. Coach Wooden said, “Adversity is the state in which man easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.” There are always opportunities in failure. Don’t miss them because you don’t see adversity as an asset. That’s when you stretch yourself the most!
P.S. – Last, I’d like to leave you with an audio clip of John Wooden in regards to his Pyramid of Success and how he created his definition of success. Leave me a comment or like/tweet if this hit home with you today!