The Zen of Wooden.
As a kid in 1960s Los Angeles I ended up watching the same show every week. The UCLA men’s basketball team would play even-up with some other college for the first ten minutes of the game. By halftime, they’d have a double digit lead. Then a romp. Game after game, season after season…victories…NCAA Championships. An astonishing ten of them in a twelve year stretch.
The ironic part was the guy running the team: dark suit, horn rim glasses, every so often shouting out “goodness gracious sakes alive!” In the middle of the turbulent 60s and 70s, at the apex of the protest movement, in ultra-trendy L.A., the guy in charge looks like…a schoolteacher! The schoolteacher, of course, was John Wooden, the so called Wizard of Westwood…part Professor Dumbledore, part Indiana farm boy, part ninja philosopher. Here are a few of his best bromides, as applied to selling and leading in the digital age.
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“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” Far too many of us – individuals and companies – focus on what’s missing, what we lack. Winning is about making the most of our strengths.
“Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.” The economic crucible of the past few years was a great time of learning. What did you learn…about you?
“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” The great people and great companies don’t over-react to failures and they always adapt. In fact, they celebrate their ability to adapt.
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” Time management tip: Slow down.
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Many people in our business are crippled by the weight of their own knowledge and experience. The only guy who really worries me is the one who thinks he’s got it all figured out.
“Never mistake activity for achievement.” Question your own process constantly. Much of the sales day is taken up by “stuff we’ve always done” that’s not really making any difference.
“The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.” Sustainable, long term success is always built across carefully cultivated team environments. Always. So whenever you think it’s just your own mad skills that are making it all happen, remember that…
“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
This is an edited version of a Drift originally posted in 2010, shortly after Coach Wooden’s death. I’m sure he’d be humble and grateful that we’re still quoting him.