One of the all time college basketball coaching greats John Wooden died at the age of 99 this weekend. Since there is nothing really untimely or tragic about a man who had lived a full and successful life to the old age of 99, I thought it might be appropriate to talk about one of the lessons that I learned from Wooden.
Wooden told his teams to eliminate their highs and lows in their attitudes and play to stay consistent. When they won, they stayed humble and didn’t go over the top in their celebrations. When they lost, they kept their heads up and didn’t get down on themselves for losing games (even heartbreakers). Similarly, Wooden tended to stick with consistent players rather than ones who could get hot (and subsequently cold). It was his belief that consistency was key to success at basketball (and, like many other things Wooden taught, life).
Now saying that to 18–22 year old basketball players is one thing, but having them do it is another. And many players would later admit that at the beginning of the season, they would be giggling about Wooden’s life lessons, poetry or simplistic drills used to emphasize consistency in attitude and in play. When game time came and they saw Wooden on the bench with his legs crossed no matter if they were ahead by 20 or down by 20, they were puzzled. When they won 10 straight, 20 straight and 30 straight, they believed.
What was the end result? The most dominating 12 years of basketball any team has accomplished in college basketball. Ten national championships including four seasons where they went undefeated the entire regular and postseason.
Consistency in attitude, play and achievement. Wooden understood that if you wanted consistently great results, you also had to be consistent in all of the areas that backed that up. And what sets him apart from his contemporaries to this day is that he communicated it, got buy in from his players and executed it consistently for a dozen years of terrific success.
Are you expecting consistently great results without being consistent in all of the other areas that lead to success?