Applying John Wooden's Pyramid of Success Philosophies matt fenster featured image

While you may not know who John Wooden is, you should. The UCLA basketball coach from 1948 to 1975, his storied tenure was highlighted by a 10 NCAA National Championships over a 12-year period (1963/64 – 1974/75 seasons). Though his winning record is an amazing and unmatched record in any discipline, John Wooden’s most important contribution actually was being a Leader of Men, inspiring many around him (players and others) to strive toward and achieve their best.  You can directly apply many of his philosophies when starting and running your business. Here a breakdown of applying John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success Philosophies to your business ventures.

John coined Pyramid of Success. He defined success as“a piece of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”  He understood people have differing levels of talent in differing areas. One person’s success is not necessarily another person’s success. Understand your talents and strengths so you can build a team with varying talents and strengths–complement one another. 

The Pyramid of Success centers around the philosophy of being true to oneself and strength of character; one of his famous quotes is: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what other people think you are.”  A successful leader has an inner strength derived from believing in oneself conveyed to others. Your team will look to you as their leader. How will you demonstrate leadership skills?

Elements of the Pyramid of Success are:

  •     Friendship– “Strive to build a team filled with camaraderie and respect: comrades in arms.”
  •     Loyalty– “Be true to yourself. Be true to those you lead.”
  •     Industriousness– “Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick, no easy way.”
  •     Initiative– “Make a decision! Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.”
  •     Team Spirit – “The star of the team is the team ‘We’ supersedes ‘Me.’”
  •     Poise – “Be yourself. Don’t be thrown off by events whether good or bad”

Additionally, he has his 12 Lessons in Leadership which include the following and a few more:

  1.   Good Values Attract Good People
  2.   Emotion Is Your Enemy
  3.   Little Things Make Big Things Happen
  4.   Don’t Look At The Scoreboard

Pick and choose all or some of his philosophies and tailor them to your own leadership style.  John Wooden and what’s called The Wooden Effect has inspired many notable greats such as Bill Gates, Kareem Abul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and Tom Hanks. 

I encourage you to study the Pyramid of Success and read John Wooden’s quotes. How you can incorporate these principals in your business? How can you become a better leader? How can you create a culture and environment which will bring the best out of those around you? How can you inspire them to be their best?


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