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Issue 67 - A Person Can Make Mistakes, But They Are Not a Failure Until They Blame Others

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 2 Issue 67
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login




 This famous maxim of Coach Wooden's was a cornerstone of his approach to life.

As with many of his principles he learned it from his father, Joshua.
In his book My Personal Best, with Steve Jamison, Coach describes how his dad reacted when losing his farm:
The end came suddenly. Bad vaccination serum killed the hogs, drought stunted the crops, and the bank took the farm. In those days there was no insurance for this kind of trouble, so we lost everything. Those were very hard times for our family, and the Great Depression hadn't even begun.
Through it all, Dad never winced. He laid no blame on the merchant who had sold him the bad serum, didn't curse the weather, and had no hatred toward the banker. My father had done his best, but things went bad. "Blaming, cursing, hating doesn't help you", he'd say. "It hurts you". His example is deeply imbedded in my mind and, I hope, reflected in my behavior.
The idea of not blaming others for our own mistakes was also critical in Coach Wooden’s approach to teaching and coaching.
Former UCLA and NBA star Swen Nater was coaching at Christian Heritage College in El Cajon, California and was a little frustrated because the players were not picking up what he was teaching quickly enough.
When Swen brought the situation to Coach Wooden's attention Coach advised Swen simply: You haven't taught until they have learned.
This in part led to a wonderful book: You Haven't Taught Until They Have Learned: John Wooden's Teaching Principles and Practices by Swen Nater and Ronald Gallimore.
In this book Coach comments on the responsibility of the teacher:
When I became a high school teacher, I took my responsibility very seriously. I believe that and I do now, that I was paid to teach and that meant it was my responsibility to help every one of my students learn. I believe it's impossible to claim you have taught when there are students who have not learned.
The leadership attitude that there are no bad students, only bad teachers is very powerful. That leader will work with those he or she supervises and get to the core problems and fix them, as opposed to blaming the team and whining about the lack of talent he or she has to work with.
When you blame others you prevent yourself from being able to do proper self evaluation, which is critical to self improvement.
The leader who doesn’t blame others has his or her office in the solutions department, not the excuses department.
In his book Wooden on Leadership with Steve Jamison, Coach summed it up this way:
You can stumble and fall, make errors and mistakes, but you are not a failure until you start blaming others, including fate, for your results. Always believe there is a positive to be found in the negative. Things usually happen for a reason, even when you are unable to discern the reason. Remember, “There is providence even in the fall of a sparrow.”
 Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom



Watch Video

Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry

Blaming Others


The easiest thing to do is to blame others for your problems.
If you are not being promoted blame the boss,
As he favors those who please him.
If your work could not finish on time blame a co-worker,
For not handing over the required file or data.

If late for work, blame the traffic.
For health problems, blame the environment, fast-food and everything else.
The list is virtually endless,
And nothing will change if you don't change,
By taking the blame upon yourself.

Unless you find the reasons for your failure, unhappiness and frustration from within,
You will reach nowhere.
Blaming others only helps to take the focus off you,
And to get the picture right, the focus has to be on you.
Only then can you change, bit by bit, day by day.

The day you accept this truth will be the day,
That will lead the way to peace, success and happiness.
Gurdip Hari




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