Advice from Coach John Wooden

Christian ministryThe following is an example of the type of article I write every month for our employee newsletter, The Employee Matters. In these articles, I attempt to use real-life examples or stories to convey something that matches up with our culture, mission, and/or values. In this article, I use wrote about some very simple advice from UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden, arguably college basketball’s most successful coach ever.

John Wooden

Advice from Coach John Wooden

It was roughly eighteen months ago that we lost the legendary Coach John Wooden. He was arguably the best coach who ever lived…in any sport! He had a wisdom and insight into people and their needs and he was able to get more out of people than even they thought possible. Following is an excerpt from How to Be Like Coach Wooden by Pat Williams.

Coach Wooden insisted that his players always acknowledge the help and support they received from other members of the team. For example, a player who scored a basket after receiving a pass from a teammate was expected to acknowledge the assist as he headed back up the court to play defense – usually by pointing, smiling, winking, or nodding at the man who had helped create the scoring opportunity.

Some players asked, “But Coach, what if he [the teammate who gave the assist] isn’t looking?”

“Believe me,” Wooden replied, “he’ll be looking!”

Acceptance and Approval

See, what Coach Wooden understood about all people is something that many of us know about ourselves, but have never applied to others. He understood that EVERYONE needs acceptance and approval.

We seek it at every opportunity. We need it from our parents and we need it from our children. We need it at work and we need it at home. Anyone who says they do not have this need is simply lying or does not recognize the need in themselves!

So What?

So why is this important to us? Because it is our responsibility to meet this need in those around us. Whether these people are co-workers, family members, or friends, we should be attempting to meet this need in their lives. It is a simple fact that if we help enough other people get what they want in life, then we will get what we want!

If we all become people who consistently meet this need in the people around us, can you imagine how much better our world would be?

[You can download a copy of this article (and others) here in my Resources.]

What are your thoughts about the point of the article?

Do you have an opportunity to do something similar for your employees?

If you already do, what results have you seen?

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  • I was just listening to a podcast the other day where they were talking about this. The business owner would occasionally wander around the office just looking for people who were doing well. He would write them a note – something that only took him a few seconds. But people kept those notes for years.

    • It sounds so simple that most people will not do it often enough (myself included). We really need to make an intentional effort to do this daily.
      I am going to include something about this in my 2012 planning this week.
      Thanks Loren!

  • Anonymous

    This is great advice and as a former coach, I cannot reinforce the idea of TEAM more. No team can survive individualism. When coaches spotlight individual acheivement above team sooner or later the team adhesiveness breaks down and the players play for individual recognition to compete. Many sales teams have high turnover and erratic success because of exactly this kind of recognition on the individual versus the team. Question: What would have happened if Jesus praised the individual acheivements of His disciples?

    • Interesting thoughts, Coach.

      I agree, but I am curious as to how you see that playing out in a business environment. So much of traditional business structure is focused on individual performance (compensation, advancement, etc.). How do you see “team” playing into this type of situation? Do you see an elimination of the individual performance/reward connection or some sort of hybrid?

      • Coach_Brown

        Individual acheivement even in sports is rewarded, but it is done in support of team development. Point of fact, in the NFL, right behind the QB salaries, the backside offensive tackle is one of the highest paid players on any team because he is responsible for protecting the QB. Without his contribution to the team effort the QB cannot do his job successfully. I was also thinking about this after I wrote you: look at who are all the successful coaches & managers? How many Hall of Fame players  become coaches?

        In sales we often recognize the sales person for the sale, but there are truthfully many people who made the sale even possible. Compensation certainly can and should be connected with performance, just as in sports. But advancement into management has many other intangibles to consider as to who makes the best managers.

  • I am planning and “Encouragement Experiment” to see how my life changes when I deliberately and intentionally choose to encourage others more. Within that will be an effort to show acceptance and approval for others as they are where they are. Coach Wooden is a true inspiration for this effort. In fact, I just ordered one of his books earlier this week and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. Also, I am forwarding this article to my husband who is a manager of over 400 people; I think he’ll get a lot out of what you have to say.

    • Kari,

      I think that is a fantastic idea! I am very interested in hearing about the results.

      I am also interested in hearing your husband’s thoughts about the blog. I bet he can offer some insights!

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  • Encouragement and inspiration and instruction are received from others. Acceptance, approval, acknowledgment and appreciation are ours to give back. Love the example of Coach Wooden! Old enough to remember him coaching some great UCLA teams.

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