"Coach" at Purdue Coach John Wooden Coach on the sidelines at UCLA game
Wooden Way Leadership


A Business Management Seminar Based on the Leadership Principles of the "Coach of the Century"


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Personal Reflections about The Coach

by Bill Kane (December 2009)

With all his unprecedented and unique career achievements, it is the Coach's warmth and openness that has led me down a personal path of enlightenment and transformation.  For at 99 years young, he is still true to his first vocation - teaching - as he continues to welcome inquiries from students like myself in his desire to share his experience and observations.  And I have made many inquiries.

When we first met in Los Angeles and Andy's introduction, Coach beat me to the punch with his initial salutation - telling me what an "honor" and a "privilege" it was to meet me, based upon some kind words he had heard from Andy and another mutual acquaintance, Steve Ford.   In response, I froze and sputtered as if imitating Ralph Kramden - incoherently mumbling something that was intended to sound like "Hello, Coach." 

Shortly thereafter, my initial hesitation and nervousness was cast aside, and the conversation was free flowing. I have now had the opportunity to meet the Coach over meals and at his house, and fortunately, introductions and conversation are now a warm exchange.

In my quest to learn about individual and team performance, I have asked the Coach every reasonable question one can ask about his leadership style, his playing days, his upbringing and the influences in his personal life.  Although he has been asked the same inquiries thousands of times, he continues to answer as if I am the first to broach any topic.  His thoughts are measured, deep, and fraught with the wisdom of experience - often citing his own experience or drawing upon quoted words from Abraham Lincoln or Mother Teresa.   For me, his replies are but a temporary satisfaction of a humanistic and academic appetite, as I always want to hear more.  We have laughed, discussed philosophy, and exchanged perspectives and emotions.  He has opened his heart through sharing reflections and poetry - speaking of  "love" and "balance" as the two most important words in our language.

I always leave his home or put down the phone feeling special, important, and loved - eager to share my newfound and richer perspective with my family and friends.  He is indeed, the wise and nurturing grandfather that Norman Rockwell would have depicted.  

I have found the Coach to be inspirational, as well as kind and sincere, and he is indeed a national treasure.  I recently shared with him that I thought "serenity" was an appropriate and holistic one-word descriptor about him, and I think he was pleased with that reference.

By investigating the Coach's principles, I have come to know and validate what Andy and other former UCLA players already knew...that the Coach's values-based principles do have far-reaching and universal application for organizations interested in enhancing their leadership and performance standards.  And as part of my investigative journey, I have also learned about the gift of giving from the voice of this most considerate man. 

For this, as I am to my own parents, I will always be grateful.