Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Review - Coach Wooden: The 7 Principles That Shaped His Life and Will Change Yours

Coach Wooden: The 7 Principles That Shaped His Life and Will Change Yours
Authors: Pat Williams and Jim Denney
In light of some of the recent allegations at UCLA, including major articles by writers at Sports Illustrated magazine it is a unique experience to look into the life of Coach John Robert Wooden. Recently, UCLA's basketball team and its current leadership staff have come under assault for players drinking, partying hard, using drugs and intentionally causing injuries.  Welcome to the world. 

Unfortunately, the news gravitates toward the bad, worse and worst of society.  Clearly, there are still good people in the world, but we don't hear about the everyday triumphs of people located in all corners of our lonely, angry and bitter planet.

By the title of the book you would assume this was another self-help book.  There have been literally hundreds of self-help books published in the United States over the last 40 years, but this is not one of them.  It's interesting to think that the United States of the 20th century was one of the most powerful, influential, successful and downright admirable nations in the history of the world; and yet most of its citizenry must have been depressed, suffering from low self-esteem or just plain bored with themselves.

This take on the life of the famed Coach John Wooden is also not a biography, but the authors do take on this extraordinary man's words of wisdom and how those words were used to define the life of John Wooden.  He walked the walk.   He practiced what he preached. He set the example.  Name the cliché and it will fit here.   

Williams and Denney interviewed friends and former students/athletes to arrive at the place of discovery of a life lived fully and it turns out that his life was inspirational on a variety of levels.  How many of us are living inspiring lives? 

Wooden's upbringing on an Indiana farm ended up taking an unfortunate turn when his family was forced to leave the property.  His father, Joshua Hugh Wooden was a tough, honest, hard-working and fair man; and he never complained about the move or the events that forced his family off of their home.  He never blamed anyone for anything.   He did what one is supposed to do.  He kept working to support his family.  When John graduated from eighth grade his father gave him a graduation present that not only was never forgotten, but lived on throughout his life.  He exhibited his dad's gift on a daily basis.  That's a whole lot better than getting a tangible, but forgettable item from any contemporary retail outlet.  Joshua gave his son a slip of paper with seven life principles attached:

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 by the life you live by
7) Pray for guidance and counsel, and give thanks for your blessings each day

These are simple statements and yet there is nothing simple about living them out.  Most of us don't, can't or won't live by them, but our society has so drifted from living the life of the good and decent that we don't even remember any of these concepts.  John Wooden didn't have a superficial bone in his body.     

Coach Wooden did indeed live by these principles.  Each and every person that had any length of time within a relationship with him will attest to their presence in his life.  He inspired others and in a cynical, pessimistic, cruel world that inspiration is refreshing and encouraging.  Wooden was a solid rock. 

In their book, Williams and Denney give a wide variety of examples of how and when Coach Wooden lived by and lived out these principles.  Those seven principles turned an Indiana farm boy into one of the most successful coaches in the entire history of American sports, but more importantly it turned him into a remarkably extraordinary human being.

His father's gift was handed down to him a long time ago and even after Coach Wooden's death we see just how much those principles meant to his life and hopefully to ours.  The simplicity of a life well lived will never be obsolete.           

John Robert Wooden - born October 14, 1910 - went to his eternal home on June 4, 2010.

Copyright Read On Read Now 2012