Over the past weekend, the sporting world lost one of it's greatest leaders at the age of 99.
Perhaps the only thing more astonishing than Wooden's record as UCLA's Head basketball coach is the emphasis he brought on intangibles to his athletes. Wooden coached not just basketball players, but human beings. His Pyramid of Success is an elegant concept spelling out the components of achieving great things.
The genius of the pyramid is that it is conceptualized from the ground up. Each component or "row" of the model builds upon the next. According to Wooden to truly be successful, each piece must build upon itself. The first row consists of both internal and external factors: industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and enthusiasm. You must be able to rely upon others while using your own industriousness. You must put energy and have enjoyment of what it is you are doing. To truly be successful, you must do unto others as you would like to be done yourself.
Building upon the first layer is another set of internal factors, some of these can be practiced and learned: self control, alertness, initiative, intentness. In short our actions should be well thought out and purposeful. Athletes need a mission and a means for getting there without being distracted or deterred.
The next step involves the physical and external realm. Condition,skill and team spirit are the next steps toward achieving success. Notice that before the physical aspect of performance develops, the mind and purpose for action must be in place. A sound body requires a sound mind. You have to trust your teammates and team mission to embody team spirit.
Poise and confidence are the next step in the puzzle. Wooden emphasizes being oneself, trusting your judgment, preparation, and skill. Confidence is earned, not given. We are to practice confident action, even if not actually feeling that way sometimes in order to gain true confidence in oneself.
Competitive Greatness is the pinnacle of the pyramid. This does not necessarily mean win consecutive championships of be dominant at all times against the competition. It is an alchemy of all these traits and qualities combined. According to Coach Wooden "perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day". Your best may vary; there are always going to be good and bad days, energy levels and uncontrolables will change-it is our effort and mental state of readiness that will not. Acceptance of the ebb and flow and still deciding everyday in every situation is key. The challenge is to make the decision every morning to be great according to your own definition.