Tag Archives: John Wooden

Viking Leadership

Now if you have read my book, Voyage of a Viking, then you already know that there was more to these Norse warriors than the looting and pillaging helmeted guys we so often see in the movies. In fact, while there definitely were plenty of coastal raids, there were a lot more things that the Vikings did well – things modern leaders can learn from.

The more I looked over these “Viking Laws” the more I liked them, and I started thinking of some of the principles that great leaders employ as they seek to grow their businesses and endeavors.

Let’s take a few minutes to learn something from our Viking brothers

The Viking Laws

1. Be Brave and Aggressive: Be direct, Grab all opportunities – In other words, don’t be afraid to take chances. You do have to do the work to gain success, it doesn’t come to those who just sit around. What are you waiting for? The perfect time never comes.  So don’t be a whiner – instead take the Viking way, get out there and do something! It might get hard along the way (in fact, it probably will) but as the great leader Winston Churchill once said, “If you are going through Hell, keep moving!”

2. Be Prepared: Keep your weapons in good condition, Keep in shape, Choose good battle comrades – Of course, if you are going to get out there and do something you ought to be prepared. Have your weapons (products, information, tools, business cards) ready. Keep in shape mentally through reading great books and taking time to focus on personal growth.  Find people like that to be your “battle comrades” as you continue along your success journey.

3. Be a Good Merchant: Find out what the market needs, Don’t make promises you can’t keep – A great leader is out to meet needs and shows integrity and character in what he or she does. John Wooden, an amazing leader on and off the basketball court, taught his players a lot more than the game. He underscored three basic life rules – never lie, never cheat, and never steal. Living by these three simple things will assure that you are a leader people can trust.

4. Keep the Camp Tidy – This is where I have to break from my Viking comrades and say, “Nope, make a mess!”  Sometimes leadership is messy business, and to get things done you have to wade in and get your hands dirty (see Law 1). If you try to put together the perfect, tidy conditions before you get going, you will never go anywhere. Don’t fear the mess and don’t wimp out.

Now, I’m not saying just charge in a without any care, shattering anything and anyone in your way. Instead, be honest and work on yourself rather than looking around and trying to figure out what is wrong with the world, and encourage your battle comrades to do the same. That’s the only way you will grow (and the camp will stay relatively tidy).

For all that might be said about the Vikings, they certainly knew how to get things done. So grab up your own ax and helmet and start to put these laws into practice in your business. You might be surprised what successes await when you begin leading the Viking way.

Have you applied any of the Viking Laws to your business or other endeavors?

God Bless, Tim Marks

Lessons off the Basketball Court – Part 2

For most college basketball fans tonight is the greatest game of the season. At the end of the night a new national champion will be crowned. Legendary coach John Wooden celebrated a record 16 such victories with his UCLA Bruins. But before any buzzer sounded or a ball was tipped to begin the game, Wooden taught his players something infinitely more important than the skills that would lead them to championships time and time again. He introduced them to the code his father had passed on to him, a simple Seven Point Creed to live by.

Here it is…Lessons off the basketball court picture

Be true to your self.
Make each day your masterpiece.
Help others.
Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
Make friendship a fine art.
Build a shelter against a rainy day.
Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

I’ve already shared some thoughts on that first one, Be true to yourself, so let’s take a look at a couple more.

Make each day your masterpiece.

In other words, how would you spend today if your entire life would be judged by this one day? If you knew that tonight at  twelve o’clock you were going to have a heart attack and die, how would you live? What would you do?

For most of us, just the idea of our last day brings up other questions – What would I do? Who would I spend time with? What would I appreciate the most? How would I treat people? How would I plan my day?

These are all questions to ask if you want to make each day a masterpiece, especially that last one – How do I plan my day? The reality is that most people don’t plan their day. In fact, most folks in North America spend more time planning their wedding than they do planning to work on their marriage every day.

Zig Zigler has a great quote: “Live your day by the clock and your life with a vision.

Live your day by the clock – be on time for things, respect others time and your own.
Live your live with a vision – go after a vision of what you want your life to be like. What do you want to do? What do you want to be?

Plan your day and plan to make each day your masterpiece.

Help others. This was John Wooden’s dad’s third point.

To really help others we need to learn to love others. To learn to love others we need to learn about people. There is a great book called Encouragement, The Key to Caring by Lawrence Crabb. If you’ve not read it I highly recommend that you do.

Now, I have a reputation of being a Viking, though I’m not really that way anymore. I try to show my family especially that I’m not the way that I used to be. One way to do this is by modeling for my children a willingness to help other people. Whether that’s stopping to help out the guy who’s tire blew out on the side of the road or serving in our church, it’s important for me to set the example for my family.

Helping others doesn’t stop with strangers, though. Help those that are close to you. So many husbands neglect their families for the sake of work, not realizing that their wives and kids are starving for love at home. So many wives run from meetings to sports events to church functions, so caught up with being busy with the kids that they neglect their husbands. Help the strangers stranded on the side of the road, but don’t forget to help those closest to you too.

God Bless, Tim Marks

Lessons off the Basketball Court – John Wooden’s Seven Point Creed

This time of year, many people are filling out tournament brackets and focusing on the game of basketball as the NCAA March Madness tournament continues. Each year there are wonderful players and coaches showcased as their teams battle for a spot in the Elite Eight or Final Four.

John Wooden photoThere is a lot to be learned from sports figures, particularly coaches.

Wooden is one of my favorite leaders of all time, but the qualities that made him so were developed well before the UCLA Bruins won their first National Title.  He began working on his mental fitness at a young age. When John Wooden graduated from grammar school, his dad, Joshua Wooden, gave him the Seven Point Creed. And from what I’ve read and heard, he passed this creed along to all his students and players.

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

Let’s unpack these a bit.

Be true to yourself

According to Wikipedia, to be true to yourself means to act in accordance with who you are and what you believe. That’s pretty accurate, but it forces us to ask the questions, “Who am I?” and “What do I believe?” Many people can’t even begin to be true to themselves because they don’t know the answers to those questions.

This leads to an even more basic question, “What is truth?” Of course, answering it isn’t so simple. Some might offer a definition like this one: Truth is that which conforms to reality, fact, or your actuality. But this definition doesn’t really define truth at all.

It is a dangerous thing to just say, “I can be true to myself” while thinking, “I can change my definition of truth if I don’t like it.” I’ve watched people try to do that, and it has damaged their lives. Many however, still hold to the belief that truth is changeable.

A recent Barna Research Group survey asked the question, “Is there absolute Truth?” Sixty-six percent of adults responded that they believe that “there is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct.” This might sound good until it’s applied to an example. What about murder? If my truth is that it’s okay to kill others, but you think killing is wrong, you don’t want to be around when my truth collides with yours.

Now you might be thinking, “Tim, that’s not a good example. Nobody really believes that killing people is okay.” But more than four thousand times a day in our country, someone acts on that very belief.

“Truth is whatever you believe.”

“There is no absolute truth.”

“If there were such a thing as absolute truth, how could we know what it is?”

“People who believe in absolute truth are dangerous.”

As you can see from the above statements, the fact is that most people are confused about truth. And how can you be true to yourself, if you don’t understand what truth is? Of course, the standard that I look to for absolute unchanging truth is the Bible. Throughout history, even those who have not embraced the message of the Bible have recognized the importance of the moral truths found in the Ten Commandments. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not lie. Our laws are based on these truths.

Coach Wooden recognized the need for a standard as well, and set up certain principles for his players. These principles were not changeable no matter what the situation. When one of his top players showed up with facial hair (which Wooden didn’t allow) and refused to shave, Wooden responded, “We are going to miss you.”

Before you can be true to yourself, you have to know who you are. Before you can know who you are, you must understand what truth is. What is the standard? What is it that you believe? Most people will never dare to ask these questions, but those who rise to the challenge will begin to develop the mental fitness and character that Coach Wooden exhibited.

Know what you believe and know why you believe it. Let truth determine the moral standards of your life. Then hold yourself to the standard and be true to yourself.

God Bless, Tim Marks