There are many celebrities in this world. Our culture loves creating them. Often, we like to create them just so we can enjoy picking them apart to watch them crumble. It is a sad state of being that we have created, or at least enabled.
Sometimes you come across a celebrity who does not put on airs. What you see on television, on the stage or in the magazines is actually an accurate depiction of the real person. Unfortunately, this is often true about those celebrities that are anything but role models and quality people. In other words, they are just as bad as their image portrays them.
Then, there are those who seem to be pretty nice people. People with integrity who are honest. These are the ones of whom you could say, "I'd like to spend some time with them."
Coach John Wooden (1910 - 2010) was one such man.
I had the great privilege of meeting Coach in 1987 at a basketball coaches clinic in Arlington, Texas. My team, the Texas Wesleyan Rams, had been chosen to be the "conference team" for Coach as he talked to area coaches about life principles and then showed how he ran a practice back in the days of Walton, Alcinder and Wilkes at UCLA. So, I now get to tell people that I played basketball for Coach John Wooden (and I do tell them this!) even if just for a few hours long after his days at UCLA.
As I have read biographies and leadership books on Coach Wooden, it becomes clear that here was a man of integrity who was very successful as a player and a coach (Hall of Famer as both,) but moreso as a husband, father, and man of God. His "pyramid of success" hangs in my office as a reminder of much that he had learned and taught (and continues to teach even four years after his death) to many.
Here are some quotes and words of wisdom from Coach that sometimes make me smile and often make me go "Oh. . .yeah. Hmmm."
- I wanted my players to know I truly cared about them. I loved them all. I didn't like them all. And some of them didn't like me all the time. But today I'm closer to many of my players than I was when they played for me.
- You can lose when you outscore somebody in a game, and you can win when you are outscored.
- Make your effort to do the very best you can. That's what I wanted from my teams more than anything else.
- Leadership from a base of hypocrisy undermines respect, and if people don't respect you, they won't willingly follow you.
- Be slow to correct and quick to commend.
- I never yelled at my players much. That would have been artificial stimulation, which doesn't last very long. I think it's like love and passion. Passion won't last as long as love.
- As a coach, there were a few rules I pretty much stuck to: Never be late. Be neat and clean. I was a stickler for that. At practice, we started on time and we closed on time. And not one word of profanity. If I see it in a game, you're coming out.
- One time, Bill Walton showed up for practice, looking unkempt. "It's my right," he told me. "That's good, Bill," I replied. "I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them. We're going to miss you."
- Once, one of my players was asked if I ever used profanity. "Absolutely, he replied, "Goodness, gracious, sakes alive" is profanity for Coach."
- Ability may get you to the top, but you need character to keep you there.
- What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.
- I don't want to be like the guy in church who coughs loudly just before putting money into the offering plate.
- Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful.
- Truth will always stand the test of scrutiny.
- There is no substitute for hard work. If you are looking for the easy way, the shortcut. . . you'll not be developing your talents.
- Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.
- Discipline yourself and others won't need to.
- Kindness makes for much better teamwork.
- A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player.
- Players today are better than ever; I don't think the teams are.
- You have to be a friend to have a friendship. It isn't one-way.
- The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.
- Concentrate on what you do have, not on what you don't.
- Time spent getting even would be better spent getting ahead.
- My father gave me a two-dollar bill for my grade school graduation. He said, "Hold on to this, and you'll never go broke." I still have it. A lot of times, that's all I've had. But I've never been broke.
- Don't let making a living prevent you from making a life.
- If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict.
- The most I made coaching was $32,500. Maybe I didn't have a multi-million-dollar contract like Shaquille O'Neal, but he'll never know what it was like to get a good meal for twenty-five cents.
- Ability is a poor man's wealth.
- There is nothing stronger than gentleness.
- To achieve significance, it's a good idea to select an activity for which God has given us at least a measure of skill.
- Don't call me Wizard [of Westwood]. I'm no wizard!
- Be quick, but don't hurry.
- Young people need role models, not critics.
- Pick up your own orange peels.
- Never mistake activity for achievement.
- I don't believe in praying to win a game.
- It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.
- If you don't have time to do it right, when will you do it over?
- Consider the rights of others before your own feelings and the feelings of others before your own rights.
- We can give without loving, but we can't love without giving. In fact, love is nothing unless we give it to someone.
- God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest. From the cross, God declares, "I love you. I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pains you feel, but I love you."
Coach John Wooden Winning With Principle. N.p.: B & H, 2013. Print.