The Essential Wooden Book Summary, by John Wooden, Steve Jamison

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1-Page Summary of The Essential Wooden

Valuable Hand-Me-Downs

John Wooden credits his father, Joshua, for instilling the core beliefs that shaped his life. He was a self-taught farmer who appreciated literature and poetry, did crossword puzzles in ink and had an excellent memory. He taught John and his three brothers to base their lives on integrity by not lying or cheating. They were also instructed not to engage in self-pity when faced with adversity. Complaints and excuses have no value, he said; instead they should be true to themselves at all times.

Leading by Example

Leaders are inspiring teachers who motivate their students to be the best they can be. They build strong teams that share similar goals and have a lasting bond with each other. Sometimes, if they’re lucky, these teams win championships or are successful in business.

Leadership means instilling proper values and emphasizing character. Leaders should be honest in order to build trust. They should accept setbacks without throwing tantrums or blaming others, which would only lead them to emotional peaks and valleys. Self-control is important for leaders because it allows them to avoid such peaks and valleys. A leader must know the difference between strength and force; he/she must use self-control instead of force when dealing with a problem or situation that requires strength rather than force.

Persuasive leaders can be both firm and calm; they can be businesslike and understanding. They’re never rude or disrespectful. Excellent leaders know when to use a gentle approach, as well as when it’s appropriate to take a more direct one.

Set High Standards

Ultimately, good leaders must have rock-solid morals and ethics. They should not give out undeserved promotions or awards to people who don’t deserve them. For example, they shouldn’t award a championship sports team position just because someone’s family has donated money to the school. They also shouldn’t give A’s in academia if students haven’t worked hard enough for it. Furthermore, they should enforce rules on everyone equally and expect all their employees to follow them without exception regardless of whether they are star players or top sellers at work. Sometimes standing up for your principles requires tough decisions such as suspending a winning player from the night before a championship game due to violation of rules that he had agreed upon previously with his coach and teammates. Giving special treatment erodes trust between individuals within an organization which is essential for its smooth functioning.

Good leaders are not afraid of failing. They have a sound strategy, prepare properly and execute their game plan. Failing is inevitable; it’s all in how you deal with failure that makes the difference. Recognize mistakes as learning opportunities. Perfection is impossible to achieve, but striving for it is worthwhile because it will help you grow personally and professionally.

It’s important to be prepared for any situation. If you’re not fully prepared, you’ll have unnecessary worries and concerns that will distract you from your goals. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to set the emotional tone in all situations. You need to keep your emotions under control at all times, whether it’s before a game or during a presentation with the board of directors.

Success Defined

John Wooden, a famous basketball coach who led his team to 4 national championships in 12 years, said that success is peace of mind. He defined it as the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming.

The Essential Wooden Book Summary, by John Wooden, Steve Jamison

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