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Issue 157 - The True Athlete Should Have Character, Not Be a Character

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 3 Issue 157
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



This famous quote from Coach Wooden reflected the importance he placed on character in the selection process of his team members.
When asked if he considered character in the selection process of his teams, Coach responded:
Absolutely. Character is so important in everything. Character is what you really are. You're the only one that knows your character. You don't know my character. I know my character. You know my reputation. It could be different. Reputation is what you are perceived to be by others. Your character is what you really are.
Coach expanded on this in his book Wooden, with Steve Jamison:
I like to think the players I coached, however they came to UCLA, left as men of character. But in truth if they didn't have it when they came, I couldn't give it to them. By then it was too late. That's a job for a mother and father.
Coach also felt all of us can influence good character in a positive way. How? He loved to quote this adaptation of a verse from Rudyard Kipling:
No written word or spoken plea can teach our youth what they should be. Not all the books on all the shelves – it’s what the teachers are themselves.
Coach Wooden’s character was built by his parents, but greatly enhanced by the example of others. Here are a few examples Coach gave in his book a Game Plan for Life, with Don Yeager:
Mother Theresa truly lived her life for others and showed consideration to everyone she met, whether she agreed with them or not. Her example has taught me more patience and peace than I ever imagined possible.
She presented a tremendous example in how she lived her own beliefs. But there is another, very different way that she offered me important life lessons: by respecting the beliefs of others.
My high school coach, Glenn Curtis, will always have a place in my memory as an even keeled, even tempered and even minded man. The lessons he taught me were some of the most fundamental of my own professional and personal life. His was a life that taught by example, where coaching was teaching and where winning was incidental.
Coach summed up the great opportunity we all have to positively influence good character:
Everyone, regardless of their position or their job or their college degree or profession, is a teacher in some form or another.
You can't be a teacher to everyone, but there always is someone you could reach with your life.
Example is the best teacher. It's the key. It is something we all can do.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry


Each and All


Little things, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown,
Of thee from the hill-top looking down;
The heifer that lows in the upland farm,
Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm;
The sexton, tolling his bell at noon,
Deems not that great Napoleon
Stops his horse, and lists with delight,
Whilst his files sweep round yon Alpine height;
Nor knowest thou what argument
Thy life to thy neighbor's creed has lent.
All are needed by each one;
Nothing is fair or good alone.
I thought the sparrow's note from heaven,
Singing at dawn on the alder bough;
I brought him home, in his nest, at even;
He sings the song, but it pleases not now,
For I did not bring home the river and sky; —
He sang to my ear, — they sang to my eye.
The delicate shells lay on the shore;
The bubbles of the latest wave
Fresh pearls to their enamel gave;
And the bellowing of the savage sea
Greeted their safe escape to me.
I wiped away the weeds and foam,
I fetched my sea-born treasures home;
But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
Had left their beauty on the shore,
With the sun, and the sand, and the wild uproar.

Ralph Waldo Emerson 






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