Principles for Success - John Wooden

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”

john_wooden 2 150That is one of the legendary John Wooden’s life maxims. The winningest coach in UCLA basketball history, author of several books on leadership and a frequent inspirational speaker, Wooden, who died on June 4, 2010 at the age of 99, created the well-known Pyramid of Success. At the top of the pyramid was “Competitive Greatness”, which Wooden defined as “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

A recent article in Success magazine highlighted some of Wooden’s recommended strategies for successful leaders, and those who want to be:

Be enthusiastic about your work. One of the basic tenets of John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is enthusiasm. “Without enthusiasm,” Wooden is quoted as saying, “you cannot work up to your fullest ability and potential; you’re just going through the motions.”

Accept that people will test you. When people push your buttons, don’t back down, Wooden advised. If people challenge you on the things you truly believe, stick to your guns. If they take advantage of your once and get away with it, they’ll keep it up, Wooden said. He pointed to a well-known incident with All-American center Bill Walton. Walton had shown up with a full beard on Picture Day, the day before UCLA’s first practice. Wooden had forbidden his players to have beards. Walton reportedly told Wooden he didn’t have the right to dictate whether he could wear a beard. Walton agreed. He said he didn’t have the right to tell anyone how to groom himself, but he did have the right to decide who would play on the team. “We’ll miss you,” he said to Walton, who showed up clean-shaven at practice the next day.

Give cooperation to get cooperation. Wooden followed this precept all his life: “The sharing of ideas, information, creativity, responsibilities and tasks is a priority of good leadership. The only thing not to be shared is blame. A strong leader accepts blame, and gives the credit, when deserved, to others.”

Don’t be afraid to fail. “If you are afraid to fail, you’ll never do the things you are capable of doing, “ Wooden pointed out. “If you are thoroughly prepared and ready to give all you’ve got, there is no shame if you fail. Fear of failure is what often prevents us from taking action.”

Confidence is not arrogance. Wooden was fond of stressing that arrogance or elitism is a feeling of superiority that fosters the assumption that past success will be repeated without the same hard effort that brought it about in the first place. Thus, I have never gone into a game assuming victory.” He said that while he respected all opponents, he feared none. “I taught those under my supervision the same. This reflects confidence, not arrogance. Arrogance will bring you down by your own hands.”

Pay attention to the little things. As a coach, Wooden was known for teaching his players how to properly put on their socks and shoes on the first day of practice. Inconsequential? Not to Wooden, who said every detail matters.

John Wooden associated with many great people in his career. He often pointed out: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation.  Your character is who you really are, while your reputation is what others think you are.”

Source: Success Magazine

Who Can Afford to Tell the Truth? Who Can Afford Not To?

Kent McKamy

Decades ago, "To Tell The Truth" was a popular TV quiz show. Three guests identified themselves to a panel of celebrities, each of the three using the same name and credentials. Two of the guests were lying. The panel was supposed to smoke out the liars and identify the truth-teller. Liars who convincingly bamboozled the panelists were applauded. 

It was OK for a game show. Today, in real life, it's a real problem. "'Truthiness' Can Make or Break a Corporation'," writes Stanford University professor Jeffrey Pfeffer.

According to Pfeffer's article on the wisdom of truth-telling, "...many people seem to be unconcerned with the veracity of their statements and are able to lie with a straight face. No wonder so many surveys of employees find that between a third and two-thirds of the workforce believes that their leaders are lying to them--because in many cases, they are.

"ABC's Sunday-morning news program, "This Week," recently added an online fact-checking feature. Public figures apparently felt free to come onto the program and say things that were demonstrably false. What a surprise--politicians dissembling! But what's true for elected officials is unfortunately also true for many corporate leaders.

"Case in point," writes Pfeffer. "One very senior executive at a large online company told me about his CEO denying she was being considered for the CEO job at another company even while she was being considered. And then, when that other CEO job wasn't offered, the executive said she had turned the alternative down because of her loyalty to her team at her current employer. Most everyone on the top management team knew the truth, and within a year of this incident many of the team members had left because they felt uncomfortable working for someone who so blatantly lied to them.

"Lying implies a lack of respect for the people you are trying to fool and also indicates little appreciation for their intelligence and skill in seeing through the stories.

"This story is not some isolated case. Senior leaders at several financial services firms claimed, even to their boards and their employees, that their balance sheets were fine just days before the companies went under or were forced into hastily arranged mergers.

"This senior leader behavior raises a couple of questions. First, why isn't there more outrage? Possibly it's because we have such low expectations for our leaders. Confronted with leaders at all levels who don't tell the truth, we have become acclimated to lying or at least inured to its ability to provoke surprise or anger.

"Second, why aren't there are more consequences for those who say things that they know are false even as they are saying them? We learn from watching others and what happens to them. When nothing happens, we learn that behavior we may have considered outrageously inappropriate maybe wasn't so bad after all...

"The problem for leaders is that we learn from what others do and the consequences of their behavior. [This] is called social learning.  As a consequence, a culture of lying is contagious, and it's very hard to run an organization if the leader doesn't know the truth about what is actually going on.

"...when Harrah's CEO, Gary Loveman, came to the company in 1998, he made it a conscious policy to never say something that was demonstrably false. As he told my MBA class, he might not tell you something, and of course he makes mistakes, but he was determined to build a culture in which people and the company told the truth, even on seemingly small matters.

"Once an employee was terminated and went home and committed suicide. Harrah's wanted to put out a press release saying that the individual had died as a result of an accident. Loveman refused to let that press release go out. He made it clear that the company did not have to say anything, or could just say that the employee had died, but it could not say there had been an accident, because the death was not accidental. As Loveman commented, this stand was not because he was some minister (he assured everyone he is not), but because lying, like most behavior, is contagious. There is a slippery slope to deceiving others and ourselves, and Loveman was not going to start down that trajectory.

"There are, of course, lots of causes of company problems that depend on the specific circumstances, but one common thread in many of these incidents is a story of deception.

"People can't manage situations successfully if they don't have the facts, and the only way to get the hard facts is by requiring truthfulness. This recommendation isn't just about morality, although it is about that, too. It is a lesson about how to run a successful organization."

Contact: Kent McKamy at  212-684-1465 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

adult CHILDREN or ADULT children?

bryant-michael edt2by Michael Bryant, guest columnist
CTS Consulting Services

If you are raising or have raised children, these phrases may be familiar:

The "helicopter parents" who hover over their offspring.
The "boomerang children" who move out only to bounce back home.
The "adult-olescents"- grown children locked in a state of developmental suspended animation.

What in the world is going on?

Are we participating in keeping our children in a permanent child-like state or are we raising children who will grow into independent, contributing members of society?

Are we producing adult CHILDREN or ADULT children?

As you will see there is a distinct difference.


Over the past ten years I have worked with a number of "adult-olescents" ranging in age from 28 to 45. In the process I have observed the following behaviors:
Many possess the problem-solving skills of a 15-year old. Simple decisions overwhelm them.
Their confidence levels range from low to non-existent.
Many of them do not have jobs or have full or part-time jobs that pay poorly.
Parents or other family members subsidize their lifestyles. These subsidies range from having their bills paid to receiving monthly allotments.
Most are well educated and quite intelligent.
Each has a network of people with whom they enjoy spending leisure time.
None of them particularly enjoys working hard or working long hours-especially if they are doing something they find boring or demeaning.
They also do not like being told what or when they need to do something.
Many of them have a sense of entitlement.
Often they do not understand why they are so unhappy.

Their parents' reactions range from frustration, anger and confusion to resignation and defense of the behavior.

Theses parents will often explain how important it is that the family stays close. Missed family vacations, holidays or special occasions are cause for great distress.

They will often explain a special circumstance that accounts for their son or daughter's lot in life. They will describe their children as "talented but misunderstood and under-appreciated." They will talk about everything they have tried to do to help their children find work but explain that the jobs simply "weren't right" or "did not use their offspring's ‘unique gifts'." They will often bemoan how "unlucky" their offspring have been in relationships.

These parents will speak of numerous warnings they've given Junior that the money is going to be cut off. (It rarely is.)

Often the parents act as if they, rather than the child, have a problem.

ADULT children

Thankfully, most of my clients are card-carrying adults.
They have left the nest and created their own lives and their own families.
Many of them are very close to their families of origin, but they have their own lives and their own identities and enjoy their independence.
Because they have had to stand on their own two feet, they have the confidence that comes from overcoming struggles and adversity.
Because they are responsible for their finances, they tend to live within their means.
If they have a problem, they are able to tap past successes to help them create solutions.
They see work as a progression and understand that proving themselves is both expected and reasonable.
If they are unhappy in a particular area of their lives, they are often willing to identify the problem and do the work necessary to change it.
They tend to be attracted to other card-carrying adults. While their relationships have their ups and downs, they are often able to sustain those relationships long term.They are excited about the lives they are creating.

(I have no idea how their parents feel. I assume their parents expected them to be adults.)

How Do We Account for the Disparity?


The parents of adult CHILDREN seem to have a difficult time seeing their children as separate, evolving human beings. They are more like extensions. The child's actions reflect on the parents.

As such they feel they have the right to comment on their child's choices and decisions.

In addition, the parents of adult CHILDREN seem to have an aversion to their offspring being uncomfortable or having to struggle.

They feel the need to do whatever is necessary to alleviate discomfort.

ADULT children

The parents of ADULT children begin educating them to independence at a very early age.

They see their children evolving into separate and distinct individuals.

These parents see normal issues of separation as a healthy part of growth and development.

They respect the fact that there are parts of their children's lives that are off limits and "none of their business."

They allow their children to make and learn from their mistakes.

There is no debate that the vast majority of us love our children very deeply.
Our children will always be our children.

Whether or not they choose to function in the world as children or adults is their choice.

Whether or not we contribute to them remaining child-like is our choice.

Click HERE to access all of Michael's articles.

Michael Bryant
CTS Consulting
3126 Berkshire Road
Baltimore, MD 21214


Paul J. Meyer, LMI Founder, dies at 81 years old

paul-j-meyerPaul J. Meyer, who founded Success Motivation Institute and Leadership Management Institute and lived his life encouraging others, died at his home early Monday morning surrounded by his family. He was 81.

A prolific author (multiple New York Times best seller) and entrepreneur, Paul amassed a fortune with ventures like SMI and LMI. In all, he started 176 companies. Many succeed, some failed, but he never had time to wallow in defeat.

Paul learned he had bladder cancer in May. Although it spread to other parts of his body, he applied the same positive thinking and action to his battle with cancer as he did to the rest of his life.

Read more: Paul J. Meyer, LMI Founder, dies at 81 years old