The passing of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden last week reminded me that some of the best lessons we learn are simple ones. Success isn't always easy to attain, but the foundation needed to build success doesn't have to be overly complicated.
Wooden won 10 NCAA titles in a 12-year span, a staggering winning percentage that is part of the reason many consider him the greatest coach who ever lived. He was a beloved figure by those who played for him, and I'm sure the following quote from Wooden is why:
"A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment."
The man known as the Wizard of Westwood was famous for teaching players his way, all the way down to how to put on their socks as to not cause blisters. That attention to detail is just one of the simple to say but hard to execute things Wooden preached, best captured in this statement of his beliefs: "It's the little things that are vital. Little things make big things happen."
It's easy to read through Wooden's many famous quotes and fall into the trap of thinking them trite. But think about the many seminars and workshops you've attended and what you have gotten out of them. For the most part, you listen for two hours for the two minutes that really stand out to you. And usually those two minutes include reminders about the basics that we all stray away from at some point, but come back to when we need to start shoring up our foundation.
Some Wooden quotes sound poetic, but others were as pithy as they are poignant:
* Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
* Be quick, but don't hurry.
* Flexibility is the key to stability.
None of these is the equivalent of rocket science, but each serves as a perfect reminder that there is no shortcut to achieving your goals. Success is built one brick at a time, something that can be easy to forget in the early stages, when you're still building.
Whether you're a coach or a businessman, the most important trait is perseverance and belief in a plan. Those who are able to stick to those beliefs and work brick-by-brick toward their goal are successful more often than not. It's sticking to your guns that's the hard part.
We are a society that looks for short cuts, but Wooden addressed that as well: "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"
When you say Wooden lived a simple life, it's meant as the ultimate compliment. A long time has passed since his teams dominated college basketball, but all these years later his words are still succinct and sage.
His passing is a reminder that even in this technological age, simple lessons are still the best teachers.
E-mail Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Wednesdays.