2017 – The Best is Yet to come!!
Perhaps the most impressive leader I’ve ever met was the late John Wooden, the renowned basketball coach of UCLA who won ten national championships over a twelve year period.
Years ago I spent a morning with him in his unassuming condominium in Los Angeles interviewing him for my Taking People With You leadership program. One of the first things he told me was that he didn’t see himself as a coach…he saw himself as a teacher.
I was struck by his passion to be a life long learner and share his learnings with others. In fact, he told me “when you stop learning, you’re through”. What struck me was how humble he was. Here was this man that was clearly at the top of his profession and yet he was humble enough to continually challenge himself to keep learning and keep getting better. In fact, I asked him what he did to stay on top of his own game. He told me that each year he would look back on his performance and identify areas of opportunity. For example, one year it might be how to teach rebounding and the next might be how to handle the media. In each case, he sought out to learn how to get better in these areas by seeking meetings with people who he thought were best in class and peppering them with questions so he could benefit from their know how.
I will never forget that he told me that he had no idea how to coach “extra tall” players after he recruited seven footer Lew Alcindor, who later went on to change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and become the leading scorer in NBA history. So what did Coach Wooden do? He sought out advice from coaches who had worked with “extra tall” players and also interviewed the players themselves to get insights that would help him “bring out the best in Lew”. I thought at the time if a coach like John Wooden could continually seek ways to get better, never being totally satisfied in his performance or knowledge, then why can’t I? And why can’t you??
This is the perfect time of year to stop and reflect on our strengths and opportunities. And more importantly, putting together an action plan to get better. You need to know yourself to grow yourself and becoming self-aware is one of the traits that leads to excellence. I’ve always felt that a healthy dissatisfaction with the status quo in your business or leadership leads you to continual improvement and growth. All the best leaders and teachers I know share this mindset.
So let’s take the time to figure out how we can improve and develop the plan to do it. After all, like I said, if John Wooden could do it with all of his success, why can’t we?
Let me close by thanking you for your commitment to Lead2Feed. You are building the future leaders our country so desperately needs and hopefully, growing yourself at the same time.
Happy New Year and let’s make 2017 our best year ever. The best is yet to come!