Posted in Career, Faith, God, Jesus Christ, Job, Relationships, Success, Taking Responsibility, Truth, Work

Rembering John Wooden

This week the sports world will moan the death of a legend. “The Wizard of Westwood,” as he was called, is being heralded as the greatest coach – in any sport – of all time.

This is a great honor for John Robert Wooden, who would also drop pearls of wisdom to those who played for him and admired him. Such sayings as: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” “Flexibility is the key to stability, ” and “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

Early in my journalism career, I had the esteemed pleasure of hearing one of Coach Wooden’s lectures on leadership. I was also honored to have the chance to interview him. We spent 35 minutes alone and I was able to instantly see what everyone who came in contact with him saw: Greatness.

This is not an adjective that I use lightly. When you meet someone so humble, so genuine, so gracious and so blessed, you recognize very quickly that he’s just not like the rest of us.

John Wooden sat and talked to me in three ways. I know that sounds strange, but in part of the conversation he was a coach to me – not basketball coach, but life coach. In another moment he was a father to me, sharing the lessons he learned in life very intimately. And in still another moment he was a true man of God, giving God all the credit for the man he had become.

It was weird in a way because his actions were nothing like I expected.

I wanted to talk to him about his coaching career and his 10 NCAA championships. I wanted to talk about all the great players he had coached. And I wanted to talk sports period with him and get his take on who he thought would win the championship that year.

I even remember being given the assignment because everyone else was out covering games and I was on the sports desk that night. The sports editor at the time said that if I wanted to, I could cover the talk or just write something up from talking with the event planners.

For us, this wasn’t big news.

After all, the guy had been retired from coaching for at least 15 years. He had written a book and was talking to the Boy Scouts or Boys and Girls Clubs – I actually can’t remember which one now.

But what I recall most from that interview was the fact that he didn’t think his accomplishments were as big as the people he had come into contact with throughout his career. He didn’t want to discuss basketball as a part of life, but life itself and what really matters in life.

Coach Wooden retired in 1975. He could have coached anywhere and clearly he was healthy enough to continue coaching. Obviously, Wooden was not coaching just for the love of basketball. It was his vehicle. Basketball was his means of telling God’s secret to everyone he came in contact with during his career. I call it God’s secret because it seems as though the rest of the world has forgotten it – and continues to forget it.

God’s secret is LOVE. Remember John 3:16?

Wooden was a savvy preacher because he never made you feel like he was preaching to you or that he thought you were lacking in an area so he had to instruct you. Without coming across as “holier than thou” or being inappropriate in regards to mixing religion into his business, he just lived his life in a way that reflected the image of God in the face of the people he met.

I remember reading about how Jesus did that same thing. Jesus then turned around and told His disciples to do the same thing.

Clearly Coach Wooden was listening.

And as he is put to rest and the media, fans and his family spend the next week laying him to rest, it is my wish that basketball never comes up and they don’t even talk about what he’s done, because he wouldn’t.

I hope they remember him for the man he was, and not the things he did. For the latter doesn’t even compare to the character of this great man.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, search the internet for his famous “pyramid of success,” for by reading and studying it, you will know everything you need to know about John Wooden and how you, too, can have a successful life.

R.I.P. Coach!

Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Career, Job, Success, Taking Responsibility, Work

What type of person are you?

As an employer, I’ve reviewed lots of resumes. Some made me laugh, some made me cry and some actually made me angry.

Let me explain.

An example of a resume that makes me laugh is one that I know is full of fluff. You know the type: The housewife who calls herself a domestic engineer or the receptionist who calls herself a communication specialist. Resumes that make me cry are the ones where you know the person didn’t use “spell check” and you see that the person is trying real hard, but too many errors spell trouble. Resumes that make me angry are the ones which are just an outright lie. This is beyond fluff. This is the idiot who thinks that you won’t contact the previous employers so they say they did things in the job responsibilities that don’t match the pay grade. The point of all of this is how we see ourselves.

Some people are the type that can “make it happen!” There are others who just simply “watch it happen!” and still others who wonder “what happen?” Of these three, which are you?

Are you the person who is working a dead end job with no room for advancement? Not only that, but if there was room for advancement, you don’t have any skills to advance. Does your resume look like a smorgasbord of jobs that don’t connect? There is nothing wrong with being this way if it’s working for you. If it’s not, it’s probably because you are the person who wonders “what happen?”

The scariest part of the economy collapse is the idea of old jobs vanishing and a person not being able to compete in the new job market. I remember in the ‘90s when the Willow Run plant closed in Ypsilanti, Mich., and many of the people there were out of work and could not find any jobs which paid the same as the plant. These were good folks who spent the last 18 – 20 years of their lives taking care of their families and putting their kids through school. They paid their bills on time and enjoyed a nice middle class income. Once the plant closed there was nothing. These folks had a high school education and with overtime made upwards of 70K. The only jobs available for them in the small town of Ypsilanti paid from six to eight dollars per hour.  They were then stuck wondering what happen.

Those that “watch it happen” tend to be lazy. These are your run-of-the-mill, satisfied where I am, don’t want to break a sweat type people who are still looking for a short cut to success. These people clearly have the ability to be better, but won’t. Why you ask? Any number of reasons: scared of failure, scared of success, low self-worth, arrogant or lazy. I remember when I used to manage market research companies and I had an employee who had the right stuff to become a supervisor. This woman was a single parent and a very hard worker. The increase would have been an extra $7,680 per year for her. She said she didn’t want the extra responsibility. Go figure.

Then, of course, there is the category that everyone thinks they are in. We live in a society where not everyone can “make it happen”. There are many failures at the bottom of this group as those “watching” made an attempt or two to crossover this threshold. Balance is the key to success here. Anyone who has reached the right level of balance in their life has mastered this task of “making it happen.”

What I mean by balance is fulfilling the right amount of quality with quantity. The right amount of drive with humility; skill with education and patience with love – this category houses all of your visionaries. This group did not need motivation – it was built from within. They didn’t need to be reinforced, complimented or validated. These folks are not conceited; they’re as good as they say they are.

So I ask again, which one are you? And if you’re not satisfied with the outcome, change.