Monday, June 14, 2010

Friendship Foundational to Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success

This article was originally published by Technorati on 15 June 2010 as a Simply Spirited/Sports feature. To see all my Technorati articles, click Lifestyle in the Contents listing on the sidebar.

As I put pen to paper to write about Coach Wooden's views on Friendship, I find myself researching more heavily the legacy of Adolph Rupp, Hall of Fame coach of the University of Kentucky (my alma mater) from 1930 to 1972. The two coaches' styles could not have been more different. Coach Rupp was colorful, foul-mouthed, a scotch drinker. Wooden--the opposite.

Wooden's players seem to have universally loved him as a coach and as a man. Rupp--the opposite.

Coach Rupp won all three head-to-head match-ups between the two legends, but he won the last of four National Championships in 1958, while Wooden eventually eclipsed the third winningest college coach with 10 titles in the sixties and seventies.

"It takes six or eight years to get over playing for Coach Rupp," said Vernon Hatton, one of dozens of All-Americans to play for the Baron of the Bluegrass. Then Hatton adds a comment that's telling: "Once you get over it, you get to like him."

Why might that be? Because you can't win consistently without developing the kind of Friendship Coach Wooden is talking about.

"The two qualities of friendship so important for a leader to possess and instill in team members are respect and camaraderie," he wrote in Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections.

When he talks about camaraderie, Coach Wooden means the "comrades-in-arms" mentality that will propel a team member to give his utmost in support of his fellows--he'll do anything for them. That sort of bond doesn't happen without mutual respect.

At the most fundamental level, friendship in this context means never allowing a player playing for you or a fellow team member to become "the other." The success of every group, team, relationship and family depends upon the leader fostering, and the rank and file buying into, a sense of shared oneness--oneness not just of purpose but of being. All elements, including the coach, must consider themselves a part of a more complex organism.

Both coaches had a knack for doing that. One in the manner of a drill sergeant found success in an earlier, more militarized age. The other managed even greater success during the liberalizing sixties and seventies in more the style of a straight-laced midwesterner cum California guru.

Thus, they called him the Wizard of Westwood.

In the players' own words:

See the rest of the Wooden series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5

See other articles about: Sports

See other articles about: Success

1 comment:

  1. It's very inspiring to me to read this article and watch the video. The sense of oneness of being can be cultivated, can be attended to and felt. It has been the unclaimed treasure. This article helps me to realize this and to notice the underlying oneness that makes friendship possible. Thank you.


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