The John Wooden Way: 5 Lessons (Plus What if Your Mentor seems Wrong)

Bottled up.

The greatest challenge you face isn't developing others. It's leading yourself.

Five Lessons: The John Wooden Way

#1. How you think

“Seek wisdom – understand how the quality of your thinking determines the quality of your philosophy about the fundamentals that guide your work and life.”

Every successful leader I work with is a learn-it-all.

  • How will you seek wisdom today?
  • How are your thoughts impacting the quality of your leadership?

Lynn Guerin on thinking about thinking:

#2. How you set the example

“Demonstrate clarity and consistency in the attitudes, actions, and behaviors you model and expect from your team.”

The greatest challenge you face isn’t developing others. It’s leading yourself.

  • How might disappointment with others point to example-setting for you?
  • How might you expect more of yourself than you expect from others?

#3. How you teach

“Teach by setting the example and using preparation, effort, methodology, and commitment to create healthy habits that instinctively produce excellence under ever increasing pressure.”

  • What habits are essential for your team’s success?
  • How are you teaching habits?

#4. How you lead

“Encourage individuals to work together for the common good and the best possible results, while at the same time letting them know they did it themselves.”

  • How are you describing and communicating the ‘common good’ to everyone?
  • What might you do to strengthen connection on teams today?

#5. How you mentor

I was taken aback when Lynn said, “I don’t think there was ever a time in his life (Wooden) that he wasn’t seeking out mentors of his own.” (Interview)

“Harness the power of mentoring to improve yourself and to serve those you have the privilege to help develop.”

  • Who are your mentors?
  • What are you learning from your mentors?
  • What is essential to effectively mentor others?

I asked Lynn Guerin, “What happens if your mentor’s suggestion doesn’t sit well with you?”


Which of the Five Lessons seem most relevant to the current challenges of leadership?

Under each of the Five Lessons there’s a set of questions. Which might you take to heart today?

Explore the, “John R. Wooden Course.”

Purchase, “Coach ‘Em Way Up.”

Coach John Wooden’s accomplishments!

*All headings and quoted sentences come from, “Coach’Em Way Up: 5 Lessons from Leading the John Wooden Way,” by Lynn Guerin and Jason Levin, with Jim Eber, unless otherwise noted.