Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, John Wooden

John Wooden is 99 years old today. As I am a student of great leaders, to me Coach Wooden is one of the best that has ever lived. He is humble, challenging, dedicated, and sound. I thought a good entry for today would be to share a small sample of Coach's words of wisdom.

Each time I reflect on the Coach's words, I am reminded how far I still need to go--how little I really know about or do as a leader.

Here are the five Wooden quotes that inspire and challenge me.

You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one.
I do not take positive feedback very well. Since first hearing this quote, I've tried to stay balanced when it comes to how I process praise and/or criticism. I do listen and take things to heart, I just don't dwell on either. Both are sources of motivation and continuous improvement.

You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
This is very important to me. The challenge is that we live in a world where people assume that everything has a string attached to it. This quote was the driving force behind Kindtagious.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
This is an asset-based approach. Everyone has something they can contribute--time, money, talent, smarts, evangelism, advocacy. Coach Wooden believes in using all available resources to move forward. Spend time progressing and less time problem solving.

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.
Stop reading. Stop thinking. Stop growing. Stop expecting more. These are all sure-fire ways of experiencing a fatal failure. I have been a champion for change for a number of years. Part of it is due to my upbringing and part due to a desire to be a better person (still working on that one).

If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.
Ah, the joys of working with entrepreneurs. I love to make mistakes. Recently, I have perfected the art of effing up. I just hope I am learning from those mistakes. We have to continue to make mistakes in an effort to grow. Very few people achieve success without a few slips along the way. Doing is messy. Doing is beautiful.

So, happy birthday, Coach.

What leaders do you admire?

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