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Issue 306 - Are you more interested in being right or being effective?

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 6 Issue 306
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Great leaders and coaches are more interested in being effective than being right. One of the ways they demonstrate this is by hiring people to work with them who bring new ideas, not just agree with them.
John Wooden believed friendship, loyalty and cooperation were foundational qualities needed to become successful. He did not believe you could reach your potential in any field without including others. You can’t be your best trying to do it alone.
One of Coach Wooden’s mentors was Abraham Lincoln. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln surprised the country by defeating three prominent rivals—William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates—to win the Republican nomination for President. Just as surprising was what Lincoln did next. After being elected President, he appointed all three rivals to his cabinet—Seward as secretary of state, Chase as secretary of the treasury, and Bates as attorney general.
Lincoln chose his rivals as his cabinet because he felt they were the strongest people available and would help the country the most. He was not concerned that they greatly disagreed with him on many key issues. He felt he would get new ideas. Lincoln was more interested in being effective than being right.
Using Lincoln as his model, Coach Wooden was insistent his assistant coaches suggested different ideas and strategies than his own. He then made them present and defend their new ideas to the coaching staff.
Phil Knight used the same model in building Nike. He conducted wide open one week offsite meetings where everybody’s ideas, including his own, were challenged. Knight is quick to point out that he did not come up with and was reluctant about using the name Nike and the now famous swoosh logo. He was more interested in being effective than being right.
Bill Parcells led the New York Giants to Super Bowl Championships in 1986 and 1990. He was assisted by a strong willed defensive coordinator, Bill Belichick. When Belichick became the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 1991, he hired a young strong willed defensive coordinator, Nick Saban.
Belichick and Saban, arguably two of the greatest football coaches ever, were famous for their lively but not necessarily harmonious brainstorming sessions. They were more interested in being effective than being right.
Coach Wooden wrote a great humorous quote to remind us to listen to others with different ideas:
"Stubbornness we deprecate, Firmness we condone, The former is our neighbor's trait, the latter is our own."
If somebody disagrees with you, do you think they are being stubborn? Are you more interested in being right or being effective?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise




When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)



Though you are in your shining days,
Voices among the crowd
And new friends busy with your praise,
Be not unkind or proud,
But think about old friends the most:
Time’s bitter flood will rise,
Your beauty perish and be lost
For all eyes but these eyes.

W. B. Yeats, 1865 - 1939






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