The Wooden's Wisdom Logo

Motivate Your Team! Cheer Up A Friend! Inspire Yourself!

Issue 51 - The Coach As A Leader - Part 7 (The Leader Has a Humble Spirit)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 1 Issue 51
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login

The Coach As A Leader - Part 7 (The Leader Has a Humble Spirit)

Coach Wooden's favorite ideas regarding leadership came from Wilford Peterson’s essay on the Art of Leadership from his book The Art of Living. The essay states in part:


The leader is a servant.


Coach Wooden's actions always reflected humility.


In Pat Williams’ How to Be Like Coach Wooden, there is an entire chapter entitled: If You Want to Be Like Coach, Strive for Humility. In that chapter Coach Wooden's grandson Greg described his Grandfather this way:


My grandfather is an extremely humble man. He's led by example his whole life and stayed true to his beliefs. He's never asked anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.


As described in Issue #4, Coach Wooden's teams always left their locker room, home or away, cleaner than the way they found it. In How to Be Like Coach Wooden, Franklin Adler, a student manager for the UCLA basketball team from 1964 to 1968, recalls an incident when he was cleaning up after a game that reflects Coach’s humility:


I was scurrying around between banks of lockers when I heard the sound of footsteps and the thud of objects landing in a receptacle. Thankful for any help, I assumed that a Washington State janitorial employee was making his rounds after the game. Imagine my surprise when I came around a corner and saw that my ally in cleaning up the room was Coach Wooden!


Coach Wooden never wanted special privileges.


In Marv Dunphy‘s PHD Dissertation John Robert Wooden: The Coaching Process, Frank Arnold, a former assistant coach of Coach Wooden, recalled the time when he and Coach Wooden got in line to register for the National Association of Basketball Coaches at the Final Four on an occasion when Coach Wooden's Bruin's were there to play for their eighth national championship. Coach Arnold stated:


The line was enormous and here's John Wooden at the back of the line when we were a participant in the tournament. People kept telling him, "Coach, go to the front of the line, pay your dues and get out of here." He wouldn't do that. We stood in that doggone line for an hour and a half to pay our $20 dues. We could have gone to the front, but he wouldn't. He wanted to be an ordinary guy, but he certainly was not an ordinary guy.


The humble leader will aspire for noble goals because he or she realizes "The happiest moments in life come from making someone else happy."


The humble leader will be a lifelong learner with a keen desire to improve and be full of “Alertness” because he or she realizes "When you are through learning you are through."


The humble leader will inspire “Cooperation” because he or she believes that “You must listen if you want to be heard.” and that "What is right is more important than who is right.”


The humble leader will inspire “Team Spirit” because he or she knows that "It's amazing how much can be accomplished if no one is concerned with who gets the credit.”


As you may have guessed the previous five quotes are courtesy of my favorite humble leader: Coach Wooden.



Yours in coaching,



Craig Impelman


Twitter: @woodenswisdom



Watch Video

Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry

Geese don’t get high powered press coverage like sea gulls
They are seen as dull, ordinary birds which only attract notice twice a year during migration...
Like the Blue Angels, they fly wing tip to wing can hear the beat of their wings whistling through the air in unison...and that is the secret of their strength...
Together, cooperating as a flock, geese can fly a 70% longer range...
The lead goose cuts a swath through the air resistance, which creates a helping uplift for the two birds behind him.
In turn, they're beating makes it easier on the birds behind them, much like the drag of a race car sucked in behind the lead car...
Each bird takes his turn at
being the leader.
The tired ones fan out to the edges of the V for a breather, and the rested ones surge toward the point of the V to drive the flock onward...
If a goose becomes too exhausted or ill and has to drop out of the flock, he is never abandoned.
A stronger member of the flock will follow the failing, weak one to his resting place and wait until he's well enough to fly again.


For more information visit

Enter a list of email addresses, separated by spaces, to send this issue to.

Email a Friend

Return to Issue List

Our Services
Why Wooden's Wisdom
Presentation Team
Wooden's Wisdom Leaders
Leadership Resource Center
Member Login

© Copyright 2024 | # of Times Wooden's Wisdom Issues Opened: 6,787,622

Hosting & Design