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Issue 296 - The Wolf and The Pack

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 6 Issue 296
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Rudyard Kipling wrote these opening four lines in his The Law for the Wolves from a section of his book The Second Jungle Book:
NOW this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack
Phil Jackson (eleven championships as an NBA Coach) made this verse the team motto of the Chicago Bulls during their first NBA championship season (1990–91) and put it at the beginning of the player's scouting report during the first round of the 1991 playoffs.
Twenty years earlier, John Wooden (ten National NCAA Championships as a coach) wrote the following in his pre-season letter to the eventual 1971-72 National Championship team members:
In every group activity there must be supervision and leadership and a disciplined effort by all, or much of our united strength will be dissipated pulling against ourselves. There is much truth in Kipling’s Law of the Jungle, where he says "… the strength of the pack is the wolf, but the strength of the wolf is the pack." If you discipline yourself toward team effort under the supervision of the coach, even though you may not always agree with his decisions, much can and will be accomplished. As someone once said, "You will be amazed at how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit."
In 1991, Phil Jackson had a great individual player in Michael Jordan. In 1971, John Wooden had a great individual player in Bill Walton. Coach Jackson and Coach Wooden both were able to succeed because Jordan and Walton excelled not only as individual players but also as team players.
Phil Jackson wrote in his book Eleven Rings: "Rather than squeeze everybody into preordained roles, my goal has always been to foster an environment where the players can grow as individuals and express themselves creatively within a team structure."
As a leader, you must have excellent talent to be successful. Coach Wooden and Coach Jackson had excellent talent. They also had the ability to get that talent to work together without totally suppressing the individual abilities of the players. They got the individuals to play to their strengths and be considerate of their teammates.
A great parent does not suppress the different personalities and talents of their children. They do get the children to behave as a part of a family.
Are you suppressing individual skills to produce "teamwork" or are you channeling those individual skills to produce a great team?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




Watch Video

Application Exercise



The Wreckers

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and lusty yell,
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.

I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled,
As the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave me a laugh and said, “No indeed!
,Just common labor is all I need.

I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do.”
And I tho’t to myself as I went my way,
Which of these two roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds by a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?

Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Carmelo Benvenga (1913-1989)






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