Strength in Gentleness


This is from the latest edition of Wooden’s Wisdom (email I subscribe to):

One of the core characteristics most identified with Coach Wooden was his calmness and quiet resolve. He could get others to do things with simple commands as opposed to yelling. He could interact with authority figures (mainly basketball officials) in a way that was reasonable and effective. How did this come about? It happens that it was a learned family trait and core value of his father.

Coach Wooden told many stories about his father’s (Joshua) gentleness in different situations on the farm. For example, the family kept two plowing mules named Jack and Kate, the latter of which had a tendency to lying down in the field and refusing to work. No matter how rough or frustrated young John got with Kate, she would not budge. Joshua, however, would walk over until he was within earshot of the mule, and simply say, “Kate.” This alone would be enough to spur the animal back into action. In his father’s example, Coach learned over time that even an obstinate mule could be persuaded with gentleness. As he grew older, Coach Wooden realized that his father’s gentleness came from the peace of mind he achieved through confidence and contentment with himself. His serenity seemed to extend beyond himself and influence anyone and anything in his presence. Fierce dogs lick his father’s hand when he reached out to pet them; wild colts bucking in the barn become docile after his father spent just a few moments speaking to them in his firm, gentle voice. Coach learned from his father that one should never mistake gentleness for weakness; in fact, quite the opposite is true. Joshua Wooden proved the famous words of Han Suyin, “There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness.”Though such a calm approach to life is not a trait in everyone’s personality, the self control to conduct one’s self in a consistently assured and confident manner is something towards which we can all strive. As a result, people were naturally drawn to Coach in the same way that people and animals alike responded to his father’s contagious serenity.

So the food for thought is this…

…do you yell at officials or talk to them?

…do you raise your voice to players when they fail or don’t do what they are supposed to do?

…are you calm when the world (game, practice) around you is going crazy?

Your players and fans are going to emulate you and your actions. Remember, you know the ripeness of a fruit by squeezing it, so bottom line, being under pressure shows who we truly are.

This is something I continue to work on every day!


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