I recently listened to an old Tony Robbins podcast with the legendary college basketball coach, John Wooden. He coached over three decades with a winning percentage of over 80%. Coach Wooden influenced so many, including the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who is in the process of writing a book about his former mentor called “Coach Wooden and Me”. He was a molder of character, emotions and men. His coaching and life principles are timeless.

He said that people should not be able to tell if a coach has won or lost by his demeanor after a game. He didn’t focus on winning but more importantly on having his players be the best they could be, day in, day out. You should never compare yourself to anyone, he stated. Instead you should ask if you have prepared yourself adequately to be the best you can be. Only you know whether you have prepared fully, given all of yourself and consistently tried to live to your highest potential, nobody else.

He believed that the two most important ingredients in living a successful life were Balance and Love. “I think love might be enough”, he told Tony! What truly set him apart is the way he exemplified the principles he tried to instill in his players.

Coach John Wooden was known for reciting a seven-point creed for life he said he received from his father and always carried with him. “My father had an immense influence on me”.

Here are the points:

Be true to yourself.

Make each day your masterpiece.

Help others.

Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.

Make friendship a fine art.

Build a shelter against a rainy day.

Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

In an age where many coaches are driven by their personal ego, John Wooden believed in helping and caring for others. He was demanding in a good way! Always pushing you to grow and become the best person and player you were capable of becoming.

He said: always be more concerned with your character than your reputation. He knew who he was and followed a path aligned with his values.

As I listened I realized there are many coaches who have winning percentage but very few influence their players to become better individuals in all aspects of their lives the way coach Wooden did. When we influence others in a positive way our lives become meaningful, he knew that!

In my twenty years as a professional athlete, most of my coaches motivated players through fear and anger, mostly focusing on trying to get them to not make mistakes. I believe this way of coaching has a short shelf life. To this day, I still see coaches yelling at young kids every time a mistake is being made. I find this extremely sad and unproductive. I know as a player, the more I did not want to make a mistake on the ice, the more I did. As coaches, we should focus on repetition of fundamentals with accuracy so it becomes ingrained while creating a space where confidence can grow.

A coach has a huge influence on whether a player evolves, especially at a young age.
He influences a player’s internal dialogue and self-confidence for years to come.

Like coach Wooden said: I also believe love is a force that has the power to influence far more than we know. We all want to feel recognized and appreciated, even coaches. This does not mean that every young boy can become an NHL player! What it means is, if you create an environment of harmony and growth, things like trust, respect, support and love, you open the possibility for every individual to access their potential.

Webster’s definition of success is: Accumulation of material possessions or the attainment of power and prestige. It could be but is not necessarily the benchmark of success, added coach Wooden.

Coach Wooden coined his definition of success in 1934: Peace of mind that can only be attained through the self satisfaction in knowing that you made the effort to be the best you are capable of becoming.

Sharing openly,

Adrien Plavsic