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Issue 190 - Hear no ill of a Friend, Nor Speak Any of an Enemy

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 4 Issue 190
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



This favorite quote of Coach Wooden’s is from Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac. The idea was a key component in how Coach approached life, personally and professionally.
In the Pat Williams book How to Be Like Coach Wooden, Dutch Fehring, who played with Coach at Purdue and then went on to become line coach for the UCLA football team, put it this way: John Wooden always had empathy for other people. I have never heard him bad-mouth anyone. He always had respect for his teammates and his opponents.
In his book with Don Yaeger, A Game Plan for Life, Coach Wooden discussed his father’s influence:
My father refused to speak an unkind word against anyone. I know—I tried to get him to do it. My older brother Maurice especially liked the game. He would start a conversation and then ask my father for his reaction or response, but my father knew that we were trying to lure him into a slipup, so he would just laugh and refuse to take the bait. It was amazing; but growing up under such a strong example of that; I found that it inherently became part of my own character.
This idea became a key idea professionally for Coach in how he dealt with the media. Coach described it this way:
I would never publicly criticize a player for poor performance. Even in moments of extreme frustration, I would check myself because it just didn’t seem right—because it didn’t seem like something my father would have done. And I’m proud to say that to the best of my knowledge, I never did slip up in that regard.
Coach demanded the same behavior from his players. He wanted his players to concentrate on self improvement and not waste time being critical of each other. One of Coach’s three rules for basketball practice was never criticize a teammate. If a player wasted time doing this he was subject to being kicked out of practice.
Through the John Wooden Course we are constantly trying to get businesses to embrace the idea that: We don’t complain to teammates about other teammates, things they can’t fix or situations they can’t change.
Hear no ill of a friend, nor speak any of an enemy. This is simple advice that can yield a powerful positive result.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




Watch Video

Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry


The Duel


The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t'other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.

(I wasn't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!

(Never mind: I'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw-
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!

(Don't fancy I exaggerate-
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of the dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!

(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

Eugene Field 






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