Wooden Wisdom for the Ages

achievement, Education, leadership, virtue

John Wooden is a paradox in the sports world!  In many ways, more dominant and legendary than Michael Jordan and still he maintained a level of sincerity and humility unlike any coach/athlete I know of.  He stands alone in the record books atop a mountain of wins which culminated with ten National Championships in twelve years.  His list of accomplishments, including being the only man elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, is a mile long.  Yet, in the midst of all the accolades and success he has remained true to himself.  John is first as a teacher of men, a builder of character and the most powerful lesson he offers is example.

Author Steven Jamison described Coach Wooden as “pure of heart, modest, trusting, humble, understated, serene, without pretense or hidden agenda, sincere, straightforward, intelligent, quick, confident, and filled with such a profound decency and tremendous inner strength that it is humbling.”  Jamison wrote books with Wooden and was in absolute awe of the man.  In their book, Wooden, A Life Time of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court, Jamison penned the following poem.

 

True North

Our Ships are tossed

Across the night,

Our Compass cracked,

For Wrong or right.

True North is there,

Or over here?

Confusion rules

Our sea is fear.

Then suddenly a beacon bright

Is shining through

This stormy night.

It’s pure and straight

To his true course.

The coach is seen.

He is True North.

 

In the sea of turmoil we call life, Jamison was deeply affected by this man he came to know.  Wooden always turned away from this kind of direct attention, but Jamison just wrote what he observed and what others felt.  Coach Wooden first desired to teach his players how to live right and second how to play basketball.   So just how did Wooden represent true north for so many?  It came about as a decision to valiantly follow the lifetime creed his father passed on to him on a hand written card at John’s graduation from grade school.

 

On one side of the card was a verse by Henry Van Dyke:

Four things a man must learn to do

If he would make his life more true:

To think without confusion clearly,

To love his fellow-man sincerely,

To act from honest motives purely,

To trust in God and Heaven securely.

 

On the other side it read “Seven Things to Do.”

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Help others.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

His father’s simple sermon that day was, “Son, try to live up to these things.” John Wooden carried that actual card with him throughout his life and he endeavored to do exactly that.  His life offers evidence that the sermon is true.  Can you imagine a world where politicians, business leaders, coaches and parents followed this model of the man they call, “Coach.”  That’s a world I get excited about!

So allow me to keep the final thought as simple as the original, “try to live up to these things.”

How to Quantify the Value of “Showing Up!”

attitude, Constitution, Personal Application, personal development, Podcast, resolutions

Society pays a price when people don’t show up.  Coaches complain when their teams don’t “show up” to play.  You and I pay a price when we halfheartedly show up and nations can rise and fall depending on who shows up.  So what does our lack luster approach to “showing up” in every sense of the word cost us?  Now that the fire works and parades of the American Independence Day celebrations have ended what will you do today to secure your own freedom?  And whether or not you “show up” has more to do with it than you may imagine.

Click here to listen to this Podcast of a dramatic true story about the power of “showing up!” 

*some of the events of Abraham Baldwin’s story was gathered from content in  Ron G. Carters book, Unlikely Heroes.

Warren Buffett:  “You Do Not Have to Cheat to Make Money”

investment, personal development, Success, Warren Buffett

At Coca Cola’s annual shareholders’ meeting last month, Warren Buffett, whose investment firm Berkshire Hathaway holds more of the companies stock than any other single holder, surprised the 700 attendees by playing his ukulele.  Coca Cola and it’s largest investor seized upon the moment by recording a little publicity piece that features Buffett playing and singing the vintage 1970s jingle about “…buying the world a coke” something Buffett admits at the end of this ditty he could do, but didn’t feel it would be prudent for the sake of his shareholders.(1)  Buffett who is irrefutably the greatest investor of the 20th century and beyond, could be criticized here for shamelessly hocking unhealthy sugar water by the ultra health conscious; he could certainly be slammed for his insatiable appetite to drive up his profit by the minimalist; and anyone from the socialist to the hard core conservative could find reason to criticize him. However, his down to earth style in this video strangely captures the essence of the man.

For the record, Buffett does enjoy picking up the ukulele and he doesn’t just hock coke for profit he actually enjoys consuming it on a daily basis. So no, he’s not the model of physical fitness nor does he care to be.  And yes, he is driven by profit, yet strangely he spends virtually none of it on himself.  Through and through he is who he appears to be.  So if greed, vanity and luxury don’t drive him, why does he relentlessly pursue wealth?  Now I am no Buffett expert, but my theory is that this unique man finds passion in the pursuit of business excellence and money or market valuation just happens to be the scoreboard.  Because Buffett has been emphatic about sticking to his core guiding principles he has developed a trusted reputation that has saved numerous companies over the years.  In 2008, just two years after signing over 37 billion to 5 different charities he was listed as the world’s wealthiest man.  Ironically, the world knows his name but he doesn’t seem to care as evidenced by the absence of his name on his recent giving and the fact that even his company, Berkshire Hathaway, lacks his name.  And though he totally recreated that company from a textile company into an extremely successful investment firm, a quick company search reveals another as its founder. It seems his passion is enough and his formula for success, though unorthodox, obviously bears fruit worthy of sampling. (2)

Robert Kiyosaki noted that wealth creation requires three things: long term vision, delayed gratification and leveraging the power of compounding.  Buffett understood this before Kiyosaki declared it and not only did he live by them, but his solid conservative mid-western upbringing taught him that hard work, frugality, honesty, determination and character must be the bedrock upon which these wealth creation principles rest.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska during the great depression, Warren learned valuable lessons on frugality when his stock broker father lost his job.  He also managed to maintain a clear vision that one day he would be wealthy.  Paper routes provided seed money and a reputation for reliability.  He soon acquired the best routes and saved his earnings.  Exercising delayed gratification he put away a staggering $ 5,000 (60 K+ in 2015 dollars after adjusting for inflation).  Upon graduation from high school Buffett was ready to start his own investment business but his father, who he greatly respected, persuaded him to go to college where he breezed through his courses.  At 19 he found himself in an interview for Harvard Business School, but Buffett laughs in retrospect at the failed interview, chalking it up to immaturity.  This “loss” however sent him to Columbia University where he met his business mentor, a professor Ben Graham, who helped inspire his philosophy on business investing.  Graham instilled in him an understanding that the market is not there to inform you but rather to serve you.  Put another way, the market is often wrong so don’t get caught in the “trends.”

Armed with ideas and an insatiable drive, Warren instantly became a maverick by turning his back on Wall Street and heading home to Omaha, Nebraska where he would start his company, raise his family and continue to live in the same house to this very day.  Though brilliant, Buffett ran into his first obstacle as a business investor: himself. Referring to this early obstacle he recollected, “My sales pitch wasn’t very effective. I was 20 years old, I looked like I was 16 and probably behaved like I was 12… I would go through all these facts and figures and then… they’d say, ‘What does your dad think?’ At that point I’d want to punch them…” Instead of bemoaning his lack of people skills, he turned to self-help books and took a course from the Dale Carnegie institute to learn public speaking and the art of communication.  Like any good student, he immediately applied what he was learning and proposed to his wife. He laughs in an interview stating, “Right there I got my money’s worth.” (2)

The rest really is history, Buffet survived through all kinds of adversity and always came through the battle whether in court, sanctions or market crisis with his character and reputation in tact.  By 30 he was a millionaire, in his 40s he was a billionaire and his company always well outperformed the market. In 1985, stock in his company was trading at $ 2,000 per share.  In 1993 the same share was worth $ 17,000 and by 2007 it hit a staggering $ 150,000 per share.  During the economic disaster of the sub-prime crash in 2008 his show of confidence in struggling financial companies saved them from ruin and though he too suffered losses in the down economy today, his shares are trading at $ 200,000 per share.

Buffett is a true rugged American Individualist; he marches to the beat of his own drum.  He’s relentless in his pursuit of a bargain.  He’s shrewd, yet honest. He’s absent minded yet laser focused. He’s driven to excellence in his areas of passion and unimpressed by any show of pomp or extravagance that doesn’t line up with his purpose. His life illustrates what can be done when one maintains a long term vision, delays gratification over and over again and allows the power of compounding to work in their behalf.  And how did he learn all this?–through self-study, mentors and the school of hard knocks.  But when those knocks came it is clear he learned, adjusted and met them head on.  Finally, the man, who though strict adherence to excellence has earned more money than just about anyone on the planet, wasn’t really that interested in spending it on himself and so he gave more money away then any other individual in the history of the world because it turns out that pursuing money wasn’t really the motive. No, it was about a passionate pursuit of being excellent at what he loved to do.

While addressing a group of college students recently, Buffet advised them that success would come if they would get out of debt, stay out of debt and then never stop investing in themselves.  Your passion to create positive change in your life or in the world may not be in business investing, but if your capital (time and money) is wasted on that which you haven’t earned, then the time required to repay the interest will hold you hostage to your creditors and your dreams and influence will escape you.  But if through some exercise of vision and delayed gratification you pursue your passion and even acquire some seed money you may just find yourself in a position to give more away than you ever thought possible, but remember your joy will be found, as they say, in the journey.  A journey defined by living free and becoming who you were meant to be.

References:

  1. http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/from-one-icon-to-another-warren-buffett-serenades-the-coca-cola-bottle
  2. Warren Buffet Biography Documentary – Produced by Luminant Media for Bloomberg TV 2012
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett accessed accessed 5/11/2015

What Benjamin Franklin Could and Could Not See!

Blog Entries, freedom, George Washington, Podcast

Podcast # 14: What Benjamin Franklin Could and Could Not See!

Robert Kiyosaki would credit Benjamin Franklin’s great wealth to three key ingredients.   One is long-term vision.  Find out how Franklin leveraged these three things not only to create his independence but to significantly contributing to the independence of the most powerful nation on earth.

A Century of Education and the Slight Edge = Freedom!

Podcast

What do MICROWAVES, MOVIES AND MODELS all have in common?  They’ve all contributed to changing our perception of the success cycle.  The farmer understands that you have to plant, CULTIVATE and then harvest, but today’s fast paced society leads us to believe we can plant, skip cultivate and go right to the harvest.  It took over 100 years of education in America to create the right environment to reap the rewards of freedom.  The good news is it won’t take you that long, but you will need to apply the principles of the Slight Edge (great book by Jeff Olsen) to live the life of success and happiness you desire.  LISTEN IN TO LEARN MORE…

Lessons Learned From the 49ers, My Brother and John Adams

achievement, Education

Few childhood memories stand out more for me than experiencing the USFL Oakland Invaders football practice from the sidelines.  The crunch, pop and bang of colliding helmets and pads mixed with heavy grunts produced a sense of awe and excitement that deepened my enthusiasm for the game.  The bigger rush washed over me though when my brother put a sweaty arm around me after that practice and ruffled up my hair.  Messed up hair, dirt and grime were imperceptible in that moment—I was enjoying a piece of boy heaven.  All of this coupled with loyalty to my brother and the several NFL teams he played for, however, could not turn me from cheering for my San Francisco 49ers.  After all, the Dynasty created by Bill Walsh, Montana, Owens, Craig, Rice, Lott and others in the 80s was more than a fan could ask for.  In those days it didn’t matter how far behind they were, when Montana went under center I knew he could orchestrate a winning drive! Back then it was all about entertainment, but now I realize that incredible leadership, discipline and work ethic made both my brother’s achievements (later as an entrepreneur/founder of Max Muscle) and that incredible 49ers’ run possible.

A blog post by Dan Coyle, author of the Talent Code, points out that the creation of  winning organizations is not so much about selecting the most talented but rather the most determined.  The data he analyzed showed that in spite of intense measuring systems used in drafting professional athletes, success in selecting the next star performer seemed to be more luck than science.  For example, the NFL subjects prospective recruits to rigorous evaluations in the “combines” where they measure explosiveness, speed, agility, strength, etc. At the end of the day they know which players are literally, bigger, faster and stronger and they are generally the ones selected.  He observed however, that only 50% of these biggest/fastest athletes are still found in the league after four years.  So if they are the most dominate specimens, why are so many cut from NFL teams?  The author suggests that perhaps growth potential should be measured and not just current skills and ability.  A measurement of grit has proven to be a better predictor.  “Grit?” you say, “But how on earth can you measure that?”  Actually, there is a study, referenced in Coyle’s post, that does.  It suggests that the ability to see long term and take ownership of that vision is a better predictor of success than “raw talent.”

This doesn’t apply just to athletics.  A study of John Adam’s life, second president of the United States, reveals many personal weaknesses such as a quick temper and reoccurring feelings of inadequacy. As a young man, a journal entry uncovers how he overcame this.  He developed grit because of his ability to see long term and work towards change.  He wrote, “I am resolved to rise with the sun and to study Scriptures on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, and to study some Latin author the other three mornings.  Noons and nights I intend to read English authors…. I will rouse up my mind and fix my attention [on improvement]…”  The next day he was frustrated because he slept in, but because he knew where he was headed, he kept moving towards his vision.  Now, at that exact moment in his life no one would have selected him to be president of the U.S., Chief Diplomat to Great Britain or delegate to the Continental Congress, but his life illustrates that success is realized by developing a personal growth mindset and pushing past setbacks.

So let’s get back to 1980, the year Coach Bill Walsh firmed up the foundation for the 49ers Dynasty.  He was coming off his first season as head coach with a 2-14 losing record and was in the middle of a seven game loosing streak. His combined record to that point made him the “loosing-est” coach in the league.  Then in a self-inflicted devastating loss to the Dolphins the next week, the 49ers slid to eight straight defeats.  Reflecting on that loss he wrote, “It was a horrible and numbing defeat, overwhelming for me because of its potential impact—a job I had worked for my entire adult life was in jeopardy…I stood on the sideline…emotionally gutted, wondering if I had the strength to get back to our locker room.”  Everything from that moment until the plane ride home is a faded blur for Walsh, but the deep depression and anguish that dragged him down to literal sobs as he sat in the darkness in his front row seat of their chartered plane burned an unforgettable memory that motivated him for years to come.  Contemplating resignation he recalls trying to describe his anguish, “Everything I had dreamed of professionally for a quarter of a century was in jeopardy just 18 months after being realized.  And yet there was something else going on inside me, a ‘voice’ from down deeper than the emotions, something stirring that I had learned over many years in football and, before that, growing up; namely, I must stand and fight again, stand and fight or it was all over.”

After that six hour long flight, he deplaned emotionally drained at 3:15 am and immediately went to work.  They won 3 of the next 5 games and went on to win San Francisco’s first Super Bowl the next season.  The Dynasty was born on the heels of defeat when a coach who had hit rock bottom turned to grit, determination and hard work to complete the turn-a-round from the worst team in the league to the best.

Anyone who has achieved great success, my brother Joe included, will tell you that defeat and frustration are inevitable, but victory goes to those who apply dedicated work to a clear vision of a desired outcome.  As a boy I took 49er wins for granted, failing to fully appreciate what Walsh and Montana went through to thrill me week in and week out.  I even took my brother’s business success for granted, not fully understanding the level of dedication it required. Later as a young adult, I took my freedoms for granted not understanding what a John Adams went through to persuade a nation to choose freedom over captivity.  Studying their lives and the principles they taught has helped me be more resolved to protect freedom and promote success principles every chance I get.

So whether you are an entrepreneur, parent, business leader or politician it turns out that it is not so much your apparent talent that determine success, but rather your grit.  So even if you are inadequate in a real or perceived way or someone else is a little faster, more eloquent or quicker on their feet, John Adams, Bill Walsh and Joe Wells demonstrate that it’s really not “raw talent” that is the greatest determinant of success, but rather determination itself.  So if you and our nation are to live free, get clear on your vision of excellence and keep moving towards it because success goes to the “gritty” not those who had it easy.

George Washington and Analysis Paralysis?

achievement, Education, freedom, George Washington, Personal Application

It’s hard to imagine George Washington experiencing analysis paralysis, but the truth is we all do.  The trick is overcoming it.  CLICK HERE TO FIND out what Fred Smith, Founder of FedEx and George Washington have in common….