Thursday Thoughts: A Life of Leadership

John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) was an American basketball coach. He was one of basketball’s most celebrated leaders who built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports and became one of the most revered coaches ever. Wooden was a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (inducted in 1961) and as a coach (inducted in 1973) -- the first person ever enshrined in both categories. Most recently he was also inducted into the NCAA Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. His ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period while at UCLA are unmatched by any other college basketball coach.

Wooden died this past Sunday.

His passing marks the loss of a great sports hero – and, perhaps more deeply felt, the loss of an extraordinary leader.

Wooden touched many lives on the court – hundreds of them – but his impact was felt well beyond the sports world. Indeed, his model of leadership has inspired many, including me, right here at Intero.

Let me explain.

Wooden lived by a seven-point creed his father gave him when he graduated from grammar school. It included such simple instructions as "be true to yourself," “make each day your masterpiece,” "help others," and "make friendship a fine art." 

Wooden also authored a lecture and a book about the “Pyramid of Success.” The Pyramid consists of philosophical building blocks for winning at basketball and at life. The building blocks are not magical or clever; they're time-honored traits that include industriousness, enthusiasm, skill and poise.

They also serve as a model for Intero’s core principles. The visions and values expressed in our pyramid - which we use to empower our agents to achieve their dreams - share six core principles with Wooden’s pyramid. These include Loyalty, Team, Enthusiasm, Friendship, Self-Control and Confidence.

His spirit of leadership lives here at Intero.

Coach Wooden's words of wisdom are old-fashioned and homespun, but they are also eternal. "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation." "Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished but by what you should have accomplished with your ability." "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

When I pass into my office each day, I can see them hanging on the wall at our corporate offices and brought to life in the actions of our agents.

Bill Walton, one of Wooden’s most famous players, recalled what the coach would tell his team before every game: “I’ve done my best. The rest is up to you.”

Coach Wooden has left us. He did his best … the rest is up to us.