Sunday, January 8, 2012

John Wooden: True to values = true success

John Wooden was an accomplished American basketball player and coach. He won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period.  At one point his teams had won a record 88 consecutive games. He was named national coach of the year six times.  However his greatest accomplishments live not in the pages of record books but in the lives of the players he coached and the people he touched.

If you have ten minutes, I would strongly recommend reading ESPN's tribute to John Wooden to get a glimpse into this man's life and impact.

Wooden defines success as:
"peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort do the best of which you're capable...And I don't think others can judge that.  I think it's like character and reputation.  Your reputation is what you are perceived to be; your character is what you really are."  
Principles didn't just guide John Wooden through life and coaching, they made up his character, and all his players knew that he had internalized the values he thought were most important to life.

Wooden's father gave him a "Seven Point Creed" upon graduating from grammar school.  Wooden carried it with him since.  He later went on to develop his pyramid of success which was the result of his own experiences, trials, successes, and failures.

What's important is not taking and applying Wooden's principles but taking the time this year to establish what success means to you.  From the time we start school to the workplace to our private lives, we often find ourselves conforming to what people expect or demand from us.  Yet ultimately, if we are to live a life without regret we need to determine what is most important to us and act in a way that reveals our priorities.

If you want an excellent article on this concept, head over and read Clayton Christensen's "How will you measure your life?"  Since when it was posted in July for the Harvard Business School class of 2011, this post remains consistently in the top five read articles week after week.

As another year approaches, let's not forget too quickly about the year that passed--and how we can use our own life lessons to make 2012 more personally meaningful and rewarding.

1.  Do you agree or disagree that there is a universal definition for success?
2.  How would you define success with a few short sentences?
3.  Are your current priorities (including the use of your free time) helping you achieve that definition of success?

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