#1708 The Pyramid of Success

The 15 Virtue-Blocks => Competitive Greatness

In our last +1, we talked about Coach Wooden and his BRILLIANT book, Wooden on Leadership.

I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend that book for everyone who is a leader.


To be clear…

Includes YOU.

(Check out the Notes here; and, get the book here.)

I promised that today we’d chat about Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.


Let’s get to work.

Wooden tells us: “I remembered reading about the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt when I was a student at Purdue. It was the last of the Seven wonders of the Ancient World. Built with blocks of red granite and pure limestone, some weighing up to 60 tons, the Great Pyramid was constructed on a massive foundation whose huge cornerstones were the biggest and most important of the whole structure.”

He continues by saying: “Additional blocks, each carved with a specific purpose and position in mind, were then painstakingly ramped and hoisted into place, creating successive tiers—each one supported by what had come before.”

And: “There was a center, or heart, of the Great Pyramid, which then rose to the apex that towered 481 feet over the sands of the desert. For 4,300 years it remained the tallest structure on Earth. And despite its size, the Great Pyramid was built with such precision that, when it was completed after decades of labor, you couldn’t slide a single playing card between its huge blocks of granite and limestone. Even in the twenty-first century it is considered one of the sturdiest and best-planned structures ever built. And I am not alone in this thinking. The great management writer and analyst Peter Drucker, when asked who were the greatest managers of all time, answered, ‘The builders of the great Pyramids.’”

That’s from Chapter #1: “The Pyramid of Success.”

In the book, Wooden walks us through the FIFTEEN blocks that form the basis of his ENTIRE leadership philosophy. Here’s a picture of the Pyramid in my copy of the book. (Online here.)

Let’s take a quick look at the fifteen blocks now.


The pinnacle of success?

I repeat: Wooden calls that “Competitive Greatness.”

Wooden sums that up with: “Be at your best when your best is needed. Love the battle.”

The CORNERSTONES of the Pyramid?

They are THE most important: Industriousness and Enthusiasm.

Now for the quick look at those fifteen virtue-blocks…

Coach tells us that Success is all about…

“Industriousness. Work hard. Worthwhile things come only through hard work.

Friendship. Mutual esteem, camaraderie, and respect create great bonds of strength.

Loyalty. To yourself and to all those depending on you.

Cooperation. Be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.

Enthusiasm. You must truly enjoy what you are doing.

Self-Control. Practice self-discipline and keep emotions under control.

Alertness. Be observant and eager to learn and improve.

Initiative. Summon the courage to make a decision and take action.

Intentness. Stay the course. Concentrate on your objective with steely resolve.

Condition. Mental—Moral—Physical. Moderation must be practiced.

Skill. Be able to execute all aspects of your job. Keep learning.

Team Spirit. An eagerness to sacrifice personal interest for the welfare of all.

Poise. Stay calm under fire. Avoid pretense or posturing. Just be yourself.

Confidence. Proper preparation creates the right kind of confidence.

Competitive Greatness. Be at your best when your best is needed. Love the battle.”

Before we wrap up Today’s +1, I want to note a couple of things.

First, notice that each of those “blocks” in the pyramid is a VIRTUE.

Also, notice that the summit (aka, the summum bonum or the GREATEST GOOD!) is the ability to be your best when it matters most.

You know what the Ancient Greeks and Stoics called the person who actualized their potential and activated their “Competitive Greatness”?

They called them a eudaimon.

A “good soul.”

As we discuss in our Notes on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, the eudaimon WAS A SUCCESS.


Know this...

We can summarize all 15 of those virtues from Wooden’s Pyramid of Success in a single word...


Here’s to living with Wisdom, Discipline, Love, Courage, Gratitude, Hope, Curiosity, and Zest as we activate our Heroic potential. Or, to channel our inner Wooden... Here’s to living with Industriousness, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation, Enthusiasm, Self-Control, Alertness, Initiative, Intentness, Condition, Skill, Team Spirit, Poise, and Confidence as we activate our Competitive Greatness.



It’s DAY 1. We’re ALL IN.


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