WOODEN'S PYRAMID OF SUCCESS A Philosophy That Produced Extraordinary Results
After taking a position teaching high school English at the age of 24, John Wooden soon grew frustrated with the grading system he was required to use and felt compelled to help his students better understand success as a result of effort. He thought of his father’s advice, that he should, “Never try to be better than anyone else, but never stop trying to be the best you can be.” He remembered his high school math teacher, Mr. Scheidler, and his essay challenge to define success. Then Wooden recalled a verse of poetry he had recently read:
At God's footstool to confess,
A poor soul knelt and bowed his head.
“I failed,” he cried. The Master said,
“Thou didst thy best, that is success.”
Coach John R. Wooden describing the Pyramid of Success.
A Definition Coined
These influences helped Wooden coin his definition of success:
"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
A Pyramid Created
The definition satisfied Wooden for a short while, but he quickly realized it was insufficient. He needed something more concrete – more visual. So he spent the next 14 years identifying 25 behaviors he believed were necessary to achieve his idea of success. This search culminated in a simple but profound diagram Wooden called "The Pyramid of Success", which he completed in 1948. Nearly six decades later these foundational behaviors have weathered the test of time - unchanged, full of wisdom, as rock-solid as the first day Coach established the cornerstones of Industriousness and Enthusiasm.
The Pyramid of Success began as a heartfelt exercise on the part of an aspiring young English teacher and Coach – John Robert Wooden – to help his students learn and to guide his players to become their best.
It became a model for personal and team excellence that produced the greatest dynasty in the history of American sports, the greatest Coach in American sports history and the life of a true American treasure. It also became a "behavioral blueprint" for tens of thousands of successful Americans from all walks of life. As Coach Wooden often taught: If you will work hard… love what you do… be friendly, loyal and cooperative… maintain your self-control… be alert… take initiative… be intent on achieving your goals… stay conditioned (mentally, morally and physically)… develop your skills to execute both quickly and properly… exhibit team spirit which starts with consideration for others… display poise by just being yourself… then you will have the confidence that comes through intense preparation and maximum effort. From all this you will become a great competitor that enjoys the difficult challenge and is able to give their best, when their best is needed. Blend in a proper amount of patience and faith and you have found the formula for "true success". As defined by Coach Wooden, "Success is peace of mind that comes from the self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming".
Fourteen years of development and nearly seven decades of successful application in thousands of endeavors and tens of thousands of successful lives would seem to offer "proof" that Coach John Wooden got it right. No "hot idea of the month" here—a lifetime of success, a legacy of character, integrity, wisdom and excellence.
Perhaps the example of his life, the records of his achievements, the stories of so many other successful people are evidence enough that Coach John Wooden's Pyramid of Success works exactly as he said it would, provided you exhibit behavior exactly as the Pyramid says you should. But now even more hard evidence, data, scientific fact is emerging. Case studies from large corporations, a big city legal institution, a fast-growing firm reinventing modern dentistry, several of America's most successful and prestigious high schools, automotive retail operations and highly successful fast-food franchises are all providing statistical evidence that the power of the Pyramid is real. A new body of data is also revealing surprising facts on how hard people really think they work and how much they enjoy what they do. Findings show how "loyalty" at the center of foundation of Coach Wooden's Pyramid is deteriorating in our culture, our companies and our lives. Data also shows how "whining and complaining" are becoming a national pastime, and how self-control is a challenge too many are failing to meet.
Review the evidence, learn the lessons, and apply the wisdom and the power of the Pyramid. True success waits for those who will listen to America's greatest Coach and Teacher.
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