“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”

john_wooden 2 150That is one of the legendary John Wooden’s life maxims. The winningest coach in UCLA basketball history, author of several books on leadership and a frequent inspirational speaker, Wooden, who died on June 4, 2010 at the age of 99, created the well-known Pyramid of Success. At the top of the pyramid was “Competitive Greatness”, which Wooden defined as “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

A recent article in Success magazine highlighted some of Wooden’s recommended strategies for successful leaders, and those who want to be:

Be enthusiastic about your work. One of the basic tenets of John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is enthusiasm. “Without enthusiasm,” Wooden is quoted as saying, “you cannot work up to your fullest ability and potential; you’re just going through the motions.”

Accept that people will test you. When people push your buttons, don’t back down, Wooden advised. If people challenge you on the things you truly believe, stick to your guns. If they take advantage of your once and get away with it, they’ll keep it up, Wooden said. He pointed to a well-known incident with All-American center Bill Walton. Walton had shown up with a full beard on Picture Day, the day before UCLA’s first practice. Wooden had forbidden his players to have beards. Walton reportedly told Wooden he didn’t have the right to dictate whether he could wear a beard. Walton agreed. He said he didn’t have the right to tell anyone how to groom himself, but he did have the right to decide who would play on the team. “We’ll miss you,” he said to Walton, who showed up clean-shaven at practice the next day.

Give cooperation to get cooperation. Wooden followed this precept all his life: “The sharing of ideas, information, creativity, responsibilities and tasks is a priority of good leadership. The only thing not to be shared is blame. A strong leader accepts blame, and gives the credit, when deserved, to others.”

Don’t be afraid to fail. “If you are afraid to fail, you’ll never do the things you are capable of doing, “ Wooden pointed out. “If you are thoroughly prepared and ready to give all you’ve got, there is no shame if you fail. Fear of failure is what often prevents us from taking action.”

Confidence is not arrogance. Wooden was fond of stressing that arrogance or elitism is a 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.” He said that while he respected all opponents, he feared none. “I taught those under my supervision the same. This reflects confidence, not arrogance. Arrogance will bring you down by your own hands.”

Pay attention to the little things. As a coach, Wooden was known for teaching his players how to properly put on their socks and shoes on the first day of practice. Inconsequential? Not to Wooden, who said every detail matters.

John Wooden associated with many great people in his career. He often pointed out: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation.  Your character is who you really are, while your reputation is what others think you are.”

Source: Success Magazine