#1712 Wooden's ULTIMATE Lesson?

Demonstration (Are YOU a Noble Exemplar?)

In our last several +1s (here and here), we’ve been mining some wisdom gold from John Wooden’s GREAT book Wooden on Leadership.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour through his playbook to activate our Heroic potential (aka Competitive Greatness!) as much as I have.

Today, we’re going to wrap up the tour.

It’s time to talk about…


Let’s get to work.

Wooden tells us: “Most of all I attempted to demonstrate in my behavior—on and off the court—those qualities I hold so dear, the values within the Pyramid. I believe there is no more powerful leadership tool than your own personal example. In almost every way the team ultimately becomes a reflection of their leader. For me, I wanted that reflection to be mirrored in the Pyramid of Success. I attempted to teach it mainly by my own example. …”

He continues by saying: “The ultimate role of the Pyramid was not to produce championships; championships were a by-product. Rather, it provided directions for reaching one’s own ultimate level of excellence as a part of a team or as a leader of a team. The Pyramid didn’t guarantee that UCLA would outscore an opponent, only that our opponent would face individuals—united as a team—who were fully prepared to battle hard and compete at their highest level. The score would take care of itself.”

That’s from an early chapter, sub-section: “YOUR OWN EXAMPLE COUNTS MOST.”

Two things I want to highlight briefly here.


If you want to lead (whether that’s as a parent or a football coach or a General!) YOU MUST LIVE the wisdom you hope your kids and/or team aspire to embody.


This is why our Heroic Coach program is, to the best of my knowledge, the ONLY program that requires its certified Coaches to actually DO THE THINGS THEY SAY THEY WILL DO.

It’s also why, whenever I am blessed to speak to a group of ELITE leaders, I always make sure to deliver this point with a (sledge)hammer.

Let’s be blunt...

If a leader and/or Coach can’t coach him or herself first, how in the world can they possibly credibly coach anyone else?

That makes NO SENSE.

Which, again, is why I challenge the ELITE coaches with whom I’m blessed to work these days to SHOW UP as THEIR best selves— doing the HARD (!) work to show up as THE MOST Heroically Energized/Productive/Connected versions of themselves as they set the pace for their team to follow in their own idiosyncratic ways as we ALL strive for personal greatness.


Notice Wooden’s use of the word “excellence” in that passage above.

Again, it ALL comes down to EXCELLENCE.

Which makes me think of THIS VIDEO my friend Brandon Guyer recently shared with me.

You know who the highest-paid coach in North American sports history is?

Coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat.

You know what he strives to do?

Create a “culture of excellence.”

You know what he gave his players for Christmas 2023?

Our book, Areté.

That’s Today’s +1.

Here’s to the pursuit of excellence as we summit the Pyramid of Success.

BE THE DEMONSTRATION and LIVING EMBODIMENT of what excellence in action looks like.

Moment to moment to moment.

All day, every day.



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