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Issue 29 - Faith

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 1 Issue 29
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login


There are five character qualities on each side of the blocks on the Pyramid of Success that Coach Wooden referred to as the “mortar” that held the other blocks together. These character qualities bond the 15 character traits we have already discussed and make them sturdy, solid, and unshakable.


The mortar on the left side of the Pyramid is made up of ambition, adaptability, resourcefulness, fight, and faith. The mortar on the right side is sincerity, honesty, reliability, integrity and patience. In this issue we will begin discussing faith; next week we will focus on its partner, patience.


Coach Wooden explained his strategic placement of faith and patience by describing how they are “leading up from competitive greatness to the top, success, (according to my definition), up at the apex. On one side I have patience, and on the other side I have faith. You need those two things.”


More than once, Coach remarked that faith and patience could have been placed at the very top or the very bottom of the Pyramid because he believed that both of these qualities are both the goals and the bedrock of what we need to maintain the other blocks on the Pyramid as we overcome obstacles on our journey to success.


Just as Coach Wooden made enthusiasm and industriousness the cornerstones of his Pyramid and explained that poise and confidence are a result of the blocks below them, he ultimately chose purposely to have success resting on top of nothing other than faith and patience.


Coach summed it up this way: "Distrust begets distrust; it takes trust, faith and patience to acquire peace of mind."


If we expect people to have faith in us, we must have faith in them. Faith is required to bring out the best in people - both in others and in ourselves. Abraham Lincoln described the value of having faith in others this way: “It's better to trust and be disappointed occasionally than to distrust and be miserable all the time.”


But faith for Coach went even farther. He believed that we needed to trust in something higher than ourselves, that there was an ultimate plan at work of which we were an essential component. “We must have faith that if we do the things we know we should do things will work out as they should,” he said. “This doesn't mean that they will necessarily be the way we would want them to, but as they should. We should not expect more than that.”


Coach liked to remind us; too, that faith must be accompanied by work: “Too often we just want things to work out the way we want them to but we don't want to pay the price, so to speak, of doing the things that would help that become reality.” In other words, faith is not simply sitting back and hoping for a positive outcome but, rather, rolling up our sleeves and really investing ourselves in the matter with the faith that things will end up for the best.


As leaders, it is essential for each of us to communicate this faith to our teams. We have to show each person that we have faith in his or her ability to get the job done, and that we have faith in our shared vision that our efforts will not be wasted. As Coach liked to say: “It's not what you think you are, but what you think.”


Whether we review the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, John Wooden, or even someone like Steve Jobs - at the core of their lives we will find that they had faith in their beliefs and their goals, and that they placed faith in others to work alongside them in realizing their vision. What a wonderful legacy each man left. That’s the power of faith.


Yours in coaching,



Craig Impelman


Twitter:  @woodenswisdom



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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry

Give me Family, Faith and Friends;
They’re all I'll ever love.
They're all I’ll crave,
From crib to grave,
And all I’ll bring above.
Give me Family, Faith and Friends;
Above prosperity,
For wealth untold
And fleeting gold
Do not appeal to me.
Give me Family, Faith and Friends;
Not notoriety.
To have a name,
With worldly fame,
Does not compare, you see.
Give me Family, Faith and Friends;
They’re my priority.
I'll be well known,
Among my own.
And rich, I’ll surely be.

Swen Nater

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