Every Day a
John Wooden is the greatest sports
coach in history. He is also a humble man who would no doubt
disagree with being described so wonderfully. Nonetheless,
this is not only the HR Doctors opinion, but the opinion of
other people in and out of sports.
John Wooden served as the coach of the
UCLA Bruins mens basketball team and led the Bruins to 10
consecutive NCAA championships.
The unathletic HR Doctor had the
amazing fortune to be a student at UCLA during this period and
to watch how the coachs magic ignited not only individual
basketball players and the basketball team, but the spirit of
a school and a much wider community.
Wooden is a leader in making amazing
things happens on a basketball court. However, his methods and
his philosophies are really what make him an extraordinary
life coach for all of us.
Coach Wooden began every practice with
a very important drill. It involved instructing the players
about how to properly put on their socks and shoes. What a
strange way for a champion coach to treat champion players.
What a waste of time, some might argue.
However, the coach made one of his many
absolutely critical points by this seemingly trivial routine.
That routine was part of an important view; champions not only
have high expectations for themselves and their success, but
they must pay careful attention to the little things. A sock
not put on properly can lead to a blister which, in turn,
diminishes the champions performance, perhaps at a critical
moment. It can substitute pain and being benched for the
chance to be in the game and part of a successful team.
Establishing a routine in which the little things are secured
and managed properly creates a solid foundation for big
Coach Woodens philosophies on
basketball and winning at life are the subject of many books,
videos and lectures. At this writing, the coach is 97 years
old and still active, thoughtful and
One particular part of his philosophy
is really what this article is about. In a brief
moment of interaction with a colleague recently, I greeted him
by saying How are you? a phrase many of us robotically
spew out dozens of times a day. Almost always, it is answered
by a perfunctory response such as Fine, how are
In reality, most of us dont really
care how the other person is. Were simply using the phrase to
express some form of basic interpersonal recognition. We dont
expect a meaningful answer. If we receive one, we worry that
we might become engaged in a serious, protracted conversation
which would make us late in arriving at Starbucks to order our
iced decaf triple-grande five-pump soy no-whip mocha
When the HR Doctor asked this question,
the person responded with Im having a bad day. The
conversation then turned to What can I do to help your day be
much better? It turned out that the bad day was based on a
collection of those small and seemingly insignificant issues
in our day-to-day life. He overslept; he had trouble getting
online to check his e-mail; he was stuck in traffic; he had a
tough day at the office.
The danger was that the recited menu of
problems this poor person was encountering could easily have
become infectious and spread to anyone else listening. It
wouldnt be surprising to hear a response such as, I feel the
same way. Ive had the same problem. Traffic was bad on my
drive to work; the dog misbehaved. The news broadcast gave bad
stock market results, and on and on.
Buying into this mistake in how we look
back at one of the many precious days in our lives is not very
different than the blister that slows you down, puts you at
risk for infection and doesnt allow you to contribute to the
overall success of everyone on your team.
Coach Woodens advice was simple,
articulate and prudent: Make every day your masterpiece.
Take care of that foundation of daily activity by living your
day optimistically and by working hard to solve problems, fix
something broken, right a wrong or help another person. The
end result is a great day, one that gives you satisfaction as
you lie quietly after dark in those moments before you fall
Making a concerted effort to make each
day a masterpiece lets you look back at an entire month, year,
decade or life that also turned out to be a masterpiece. Oct.
14 was Coach Woodens birthday. If you could have heard me on
that date, dearest readers, you would have heard me singing a
sincere Happy Birthday to a great man.
HR Doctor & HR Bruin www.hrdr.net