I saw John Wooden on PBS last night, the legendary coach of UCLA basketball who won like a ba-zillion NCAA championships. His feats are almost unparalleled in the world of sports but the reason I think he is still so darn interesting to so many people — he’s nearly 100 years old and still speaks, signs and does appearances — is because he developed a sort of life philosophy that transcends mere sports.
He calls it the Pyramid of Success and without a doubt it is a tool from which ALL YOUNG PEOPLE (heck, all people) in this country can derive tremendous benefit.
There are so many things that this triggers for me that I could write a book about his book — it’s truly that spectacular. But out of all the things I could address right now, the thing that spoke most to me last night was when Coach Wooden said, “Above all, parenting is the first profession.”
Wow. I mean this is a guy who is Hall of Fame huge in his professional accomplishments and the number one area in his own career, the arena which he considered professionally preeminent above all, was being a good parent. And this outlook on life is what he considered to be the core foundation to all his other “life success”.
Values drove the way he lived his life. And if you look at the pyramid, you see that each and every element is something that falls under an individual’s control. Success was a by-product of proper conduct, proper living, proper preparation, right attitude and right effort. He talked about how bad breaks were inevitable, both in the world of sports and in the game of life, but how one responded to the inevitable adversity almost always trumped the circumstances of the adversity itself.
He raised his own kids from this perspective, he coached his team from this perspective, and his legacy to us all will be, not the banners that hang from the rafters which proclaim him a “winner” many, many times over, but rather the ability he provides all of us to bring these tools into our own lives.
How much would education change if the parents of this nation took the counsel of Coach Wooden to heart? And if the parents won’t do it, then does it not falls to us, the teachers of this nation, to pick up the slack? If every student owned — rather took ownership over applying the principles illuminated by Wooden’s Pyramid — I think fantastical strides for our schools and our nation could be made.
Funny how we have all these great tools at our disposal, but, I wonder, if they go unused, what’s the point in even having them?
Parents, teachers, administrators and lay folks — seize the pyramid! I know my own life is better for having worked hard to do so.