|Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 2
|Craig Impelman Speaking | Championship Coaches | Champion's Leadership Library Login
A MISTAKE IS VALUABLE IF YOU RECOGNIZE IT, ADMIT IT, LEARN FROM IT AND FORGET IT
This quote from Coach Wooden is one of my favorites because it summarizes and gives instruction to some of his key ideas regarding how to deal with mistakes:
John Wooden took on his first coaching assignment in 1933. The opportunity was in Dayton, Kentucky for the Dayton High School Green Devils football team.
In his book My Personal Best with Steve Jamison, Coach described that experience:
The Green Devils football team had a big lumbering lineman who bullied other classmates and even teammates; he was the kind of player who did only as much as he wanted to do and no more. On a sweltering Kentucky afternoon during the first week of football practice, this young man decided he'd had enough of my whistle blowing, directions and drills.
When I told him to get back to work, he challenged me. He stuck his chin right in my face and snarled, "You're not man enough to make me do it." The whole team was watching us. I responded emotionally and without thinking, and I am very ashamed of what happened next—a brief but physical altercation. It was terrible behavior from someone trying hard to follow the examples of my coaching mentors. Even more, it went against my father's teaching. One of his favorite quotes was from Abraham Lincoln: "There is nothing stronger than gentleness." Now, as a brand-new coach—two weeks into the job—I had quickly lost my temper and stooped to violence. It troubled me very deeply. These days I'd be fired, rightfully, but on that hot humid afternoon, we just moved on and continued practice.
I quickly came to understand I wasn't a good football coach .The stubborn lineman, however, was not the reason, and I asked my predecessor, Willard Bass, to come back. As the weeks went along, I heard through the grapevine that whenever one of them gave him any trouble, Coach Bass would warn sternly, "Please don't make me tell Johnny Wooden about this." He was kidding, of course, but I didn't think it was very funny.
Seems as though Coach Wooden followed his own advice regarding this mistake. He recognized it, admitted it, learned from it and moved forward.
Yours in coaching,
As daylight fades and twilight approaches,
For more information visit www.woodenswisdom.com
Email a Friend
Return to Issue List