I am by no means a college basketball aficionado, far from it. I don’t have any idea who the top teams are in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), but I am familiar with the name John Wooden. True to my word, I knew he was coach, but clueless of what team he coached. A truly inspiring article written by Don Yaeger in Success magazine paid tribute to his life and what a life it was.
Yes, he was a remarkable leader, leading his team to 10 national championships. But more than that, he was a remarkable person who left his mark on countless lives. The article features four such lives; but one snuck in making it a total of five. One of those featured is Cori Close; she is the current head women’s basketball coach for the UCLA Bruins.
She spoke in glowing terms of the mentoring relationship with Wooden. It’s obvious that he never tried to make people feel “less than”. Coach Close shares a very powerful moment, “One of the most profound things he taught me was how he made really complicated things very simple.” She went to him with a troubling issue, his response, “What are you committed to? Know who you are. Stick to your principles, make choices that are in line with your principles, and deal with the results.”
She continues and says, “What strikes me most about Coach Wooden was that, besides winning games, what he really did was help build amazing men.” She tells a story of a former player she didn’t know, who introduced himself to her at a charity event, “I’ve been married for 38 years because of what coach Wooden taught me. I have opened three successful businesses because of what he taught me. I have conquered cancer three times because of what he taught me. I even survived the death of my 12-year- old daughter because of the tools he gave me.” (This is the fifth life that snuck in).
WOW, you talk about legacy and shaping people’s lives. Now, it would be easy to read about this remarkable, gracious man and begin the comparison game. But the key is to go back to what Wooden said to coach Close, “What are you committed to? Know who you are. Stick to your principles, make choices that are in line with your principles, and deal with the results.”
You and I have a circle of influence. We may not coach a championship winning sports team, but our life speaks loudly to those around us. What is it saying? What do you want it to say? I am really liking coach Wooden’s advice…