In this lesson we’ll explore the Pyramid of Success developed by the late basketball coach, John Wooden.
Wooden’s philosophy made him a success on and off the court.
Self-improvement is a normal and healthy impulse. Whether you’re trying to eat a healthier diet or have a better outlook on life, you may look for guidance in improving your life. Some people look to self-help books, while others look to gurus. Still others, especially those with a sporting background, may look to a coach.In this lesson, we will discover the important keys to success according to one such coach, the late John Wooden.
John Wooden’s Biography in Brief
Wooden was born in a small town in Indiana in 1910. He grew up on a farm, but he proved his prowess on the court. A local basketball star, he went on to star at Purdue University, where he was a three-time All-American. After graduation he became a teacher and a basketball coach.
Wooden eventually made his way to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he became one of the best basketball coaches of all time. During the 1960s and 1970s his teams won 10 national titles in 12 years. Wooden was renowned not just for his victories but for his signature coaching style, which emphasized hard work, a positive attitude, and teamwork.
Even after Wooden’s retirement in 1975, he remained influential in the basketball and wider coaching communities. His teachings and maxims were – and still are – adopted by people in and out of sports.
Pyramid of Success
Perhaps one of Wooden’s more popular creations is the Pyramid of Success. The Pyramid lists 15 values and attributes, with basic skills or qualities being used to build more advanced ones, leading to the end goal: competitive greatness. Below, we briefly detail each step and how each is important on the road to success.
In Wooden’s own words, ‘this means hard work. Very hard work.
‘ According to Wooden, only those who are willing to outwork their competitors and put in the time and energy to get better have even a chance at achieving great success.
According to Wooden, this is not the affectionate friendship you may have for a close friend or confidant. Instead, friendship in a workplace or team setting is based on mutual respect and a sense of camaraderie. When both of these are achieved, individuals will go to great lengths to help one another.
Wooden considered this to be possibly the most important of all the base values. Loyalty to one another and toward an organization, both from above and below, encourages fairness and respect and is an important part of any team environment.
A willingness to cooperate by listening to others’ ideas and being confident enough to share your own is an important part of any organization. A team can achieve far more through cooperation than by working against one another.
Making sure you have a passion for what you’re doing, or at the very least, a passion for doing the job in front of you correctly, is incredibly important to personal and team morale.
Being in control of one’s emotions, whether in the workplace or on the court, is vital to ensuring you can keep a clear head with which to tackle the challenges before you.
This means being aware of your surroundings and being willing to learn from them at all times. Wooden often illustrated the importance of this value by saying ‘The driver who’s asleep at the wheel will crash. The same happens to organizations lacking alertness.’
This means having the courage to act and the wherewithal to try again when you have failed. Inaction or inactivity, according to Wooden, only guarantees more failure.
It is important not only to have goals, but to ensure that you have the single-minded tenacity to achieve these goals.
Important or great achievements are usually not achieved overnight; therefore, it’s important to make sure you stay focused on your goals regardless of any setbacks.
This involves ensuring you are in the proper state to make the right decisions. It can refer to physical conditioning, as in a sport, or mental and moral conditioning when making tough decisions in the workplace. Wooden liked to remind his players that ‘in the end, the choice you make makes you.’
Skills, no matter what your job, are incredibly important.
But just as knowing the right thing to do in one situation is important, it’s equally important to keep learning new skills to ensure you are never caught off-guard. Having skills, building upon your skills, and learning new ones all the time are equally important.
This involves being willing to give up everything for the good of your team. It means being willing to sacrifice, whether by diving on the court for a ball or staying late to get some extra work done for a colleague.
Poise is an incredibly important skill that comes with being comfortable in your skin and committing to follow your values, even in a crisis. Poise allows you to act in a way you know is right, and is reassuring to your colleagues and team as well.
Confidence comes with attaining many of the skills and attributes already discussed.
Being confident in your ability to win or get the job done right, regardless of the situation, can be a great asset.
If you can achieve all these attributes, then you can truly attain competitive greatness through testing yourself against the best in your field. Those achieving competitive greatness find joy in the challenges themselves.
John Wooden was a great leader and coach who knew a thing or two about success. As such, his self-styled Pyramid of Success is followed by leaders in and out of the sporting world. The base values or attributes of the Pyramid are those which Wooden deemed incredibly important.
Upon these were built the skills and qualities that Wooden felt contributed to the end goal of any team or organization: competitive greatness.