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Issue 147 - It is the Little Details That Make Things Work

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 3 Issue 147
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



This favorite idea of Coach Wooden's is a theme that is consistent with successful performers whether it is in business, art or sports. As Coach liked to say: Develop a love of details. They usually accompany success.
In his book Wooden on Leadership, with Steve Jamison, Coach described the importance of details:
I derived great satisfaction from identifying and perfecting those “trivial” and often troublesome details, because I knew, without doubt, that each one brought UCLA a bit closer to our goal: competitive greatness.
If you collect enough pennies you'll eventually be rich. Each relevant and perfect detail was another penny in our bank.
The key for a great coach, teacher or leader is to be able to get the people he or she supervises to execute the details properly and consistently without the need for constant correction and without the team members feeling that they are being micromanaged.
Coach was able to accomplish this by teaching the fundamentals in small parts until they became big habits that were second nature to his teams.
Coach put it this way: The greatest holiday feast is eaten one bite at a time. Gulp it down all at once and you get indigestion. I discovered the same is true in teaching. To be effective, a leader must dispense information in bite size, digestible amounts.
Coach provided his players the proper fundamental structure, but also gave them enough leeway to use their initiative to adapt to any situation.
Coach was a master of attention to detail, but not a control freak.
An important lesson Coach learned was that details are important, but they will not be properly executed if you have too many of them.
In 1962, two years before Coach Wooden won his first national championship, UCLA came up short, losing to Cincinnati in the Final Four. Coach felt it was his fault. In Wooden’s Complete Guide to Leadership, he described the changes he made:
In the past, when UCLA qualified for the NCAA post season tournament, I had intensified our already grueling practices, working players even harder-so hard in fact, that by tournament time they were physically and mentally spent.
I had added new plays and piled on more information. Instead of staying with what had worked during the regular season - a clear and uncomplicated strategy - I intentionally made things complicated.
I resolved that in the future I would keep it simple going into postseason play, just as I did during the regular season.
The change to maintain the details, but not have too many, worked out quite well.
As Coach once said: What I taught was as simple as one, two, three. But without being self congratulatory, I believe I taught one, two, three fairly well.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry


The Day is Done


The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 





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