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1. ~~Make the best effort you are capable of, and that is success~~

Summary: This theme emphasizes the importance of striving for personal excellence and defining success as the effort put forth to become the best one can be, rather than solely focusing on winning or external validation.

  • “Johnny, work hard to get as good as you can get,” he’d say. “Do that and you may call yourself a success. Do less and you’ve fallen short.”
  • “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”
  • Set your standards high; namely, do the absolute best of which you are capable.
  • You must define success as making the complete effort to maximize your ability, skills, and potential in whatever circumstances—good or bad—may exist.
  • I tell you with certainty that when you accomplish the formidable task of making the full, 100 percent effort to do your best and teach your organization to do the same, you may call yourself a success because you are one.
  • The score will take care of itself when you take care of the effort that precedes the score.
  • A strong leader inspires teams to relish the competition itself and view the outcome as a byproduct—an important by-product, yes, but still a by-product.

2. ~~Leaders are teachers~~

Summary: This theme focuses on the intrinsic link between effective leadership and teaching, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning, improvement, and the ability to inspire and bring out the best in others.

  • What am I? Just a teacher.
  • Effective teaching is intrinsic to effective leadership, the kind that can build and maintain a successful team.
  • It is very easy to get comfortable in a position of leadership, to believe that you’ve got all the answers, especially when you begin to enjoy some success.
  • In your ongoing efforts to increase your knowledge within the profession, don’t overlook improving your ability to be a better teacher.
  • Personal greatness for any leader is measured by effectiveness in bringing out the greatness of those you lead.
  • The leader’s attitude, conscious and subconscious, inevitably becomes the attitude of those he leads.
  • In my opinion, being an effective leader—one who can build a winning organization—requires being an effective listener.
  • A good leader never stops learning. A great leader never stops teaching.

3. Teamwork and Collaboration

Summary: This theme highlights the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and communication in achieving success, as well as the role of the leader in fostering a team-oriented environment.

  • Coach was very effective in getting people to understand that the team’s interests came first, that doing what was best for the team—even if it meant sitting on the bench—was best for us.
  • Communication is essential in sports. The same is perhaps true with your team. Do you stress and teach good communication? Of course, it starts with the leader. Are you a good communicator?

4. ~~Focus on the Process, Not the Outcome~~

Summary: This theme emphasizes the importance of focusing on the process, effort, and continuous improvement, rather than being solely fixated on the outcome or the scoreboard.

  • Coach Wooden taught good habits.
  • The drills he ran at UCLA were mostly the same drills I had run back in high school—the very same drills. Coach Wooden just did them more repetitively and with more speed and precision.
  • For most of my life I have believed that success is found in the running of the race. How you run the race—your planning, preparation, practice, and performance—counts for everything.
  • Cervantes had it right: “The journey is better than the inn.” Most people don’t understand what he means, but thanks to my father I do. The joy is in the journey of pushing yourself to the outward limits of your ability and teaching your organization to do the same.
  • Long-Term Success Requires Short-Term Focus. This goes to the heart of my “don’t look at the scoreboard” imperative. It is key to my leadership methodology. Focus on improvement—now. Not tomorrow; not next week. Let’s get it done today.

5. Discipline and Accountability

Summary: This theme focuses on the importance of discipline, accountability, and constructive criticism in leadership, as well as the need to adapt rules and consequences to be more effective.

  • Remember That Success Can Take Months—or Years—to Achieve but Can Be Undone in Minutes. This is why conditioning—physical, mental, and moral—is so important.
  • Over the years, I changed from having lots of rules and few suggestions to lots of suggestions and fewer rules.
  • Furthermore, when difficulties arose and strong action—or words—were called for, I made it a policy to criticize in private, not in front of others. The rebuke was done without rancor. I was stern, but I did not get personal—no insults, no berating, no anger, no emotion.

~~6. Continuous Improvement and Attention to Detail~~

Summary: This theme emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement, attention to detail, and the relentless pursuit of perfection in leadership and team success.

  • HIGH PERFORMANCE AND PRODUCTION are achieved only through the identification and perfection of small but relevant details—little things done well.
  • Success, not the devil, is in the details.
  • Our standards were very high when it came to the execution of fundamentals. And fundamentals, done well, are the foundation upon which effective leaders build highly productive teams and very competitive organizations.
  • Each hour offered the potential for helping us get better and better, closer and closer. Wasting even one minute was painful for me—like throwing a gold coin into the sea, never to be recovered.
  • Never stop looking for an opportunity to put more value into each minute of your organization’s time. Those small opportunities, one by one, eventually make a big difference.

7. Character and Integrity

Summary: This theme underscores the importance of character and integrity in leadership, highlighting the distinction between reputation and true character, and the need for honesty and ethical behavior.

  • Reputation is what others perceive you as being, and their opinion may be right or wrong. Character, however, is what you really are, and nobody truly knows that but you. But you are what matters most.