In his very first season as a head coach, he took a losing team and immediately turned them into a winner. Speaking of winning, he coached his teams to a mind-boggling total 664 victories in 27 seasons, including 10 NCAA National Championships. Within this period were 88 straight wins and four perfect 30-0 seasons.
Yet, having seen several television feature stories about him, having read one of his books, having been privileged to see him speak, and having spoken to people who have spoken with those who have known him first-hand, the following appears to be very true about retired UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden:
Winning was not his focus.
Don’t get me wrong; he loved to win and was not one to accept a loss that was not preceded by full preparation and determined effort. But, winning was not his priority; indeed, it was not his focus.
In fact, his very definition of “Success” was not winning the game. Rather, it was: “Peace of mind that is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
Let’s look at just a few of his qualities that stood out the most:
He was a person of his word.
He prepared unceasingly.
He insisted that all players prepared unceasingly and put forth their best effort, being team-focused. He did not accept selfishness on the court, nor did he accept one player criticizing another.
He focused on the “little things” if he felt they had potentially major consequences; most famously how to correctly put on socks and sneakers in order to avoid blisters.
He was/is a man of deep religious faith.
He was/is a very nice, kind human being.
Coach Wooden, who didn’t hold the winning of basketball games as his highest priority, was – literally speaking – a huge winner, not just in life, but on the court.
Of course, I’m not saying one should or should not focus on winning. That’s for each individual to decide. However, I would like to put up for discussion the question, “what lessons you feel we can take from this outstanding coach and human being?”