“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” –John Wooden
By idolizing his father, Joshua Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, John R. Wooden, learned how to be a genuine person. Growing up in Hall, Indiana, Wooden enjoyed a basic farm lifestyle, where his father reminded him everyday that only through hard work and total dedication to personal values could he be a successful individual in society. These essential components comprised Wooden and made him into the regimented and talented high school and collegiate basketball player that he was. His college playing career took him to Purdue University where he was named captain, he garnered three All-American titles as a guard, he graduated with honors earning a degree in English, and was asked to come play in the NBA following graduation. Rather than going to the NBA, however, Wooden married his high school sweetheart and became a teacher and coach. In 1948, Wooden became the head coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball program where he received the title: “The Wizard of Westwood.” He was so named because of his uncontested winning record of 664-162 over his 27-year college-coaching career and his unheard of 10 national championships in a 12-year period. While Wooden was a gifted basketball player, this was not what truly made him such a successful coach. Rather, his resolve to consistently impress upon his players that being of sound and moral character is the only way to be an effective team member and person, made Wooden a triumphant leader.
John R. Wooden is the epitome of an authentic leader, and learning of his teachings has made him one of my role models. In a Leadership and Power class I took in college, I presented a research paper on this iconic coach and learned of his many accomplishments. He is the kind of leader I aspire to be, and I hope to have the positive effect that he had on his players with anyone that I may lead in my life.