Winners Make the Most Mistakes

Winners Make the Most Mistakes

Taking a look at lessons from John Wooden, legendary coach and 10-time NCAA champion.

John Wooden, the “Wizard of Westwood,” was perhaps the greatest college basketball coach of all time. Among accomplishments that are too plentiful to fully list, he won 10 National Championships at UCLA and was named Coach of the Century by ESPN.

In his time after basketball, Wooden produced a number of noteworthy books on the topic of leadership and success. If you haven’t read any of them, “Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court” is a great place to start. Here are a few excerpts that we thought had particular meaning for financial advisors.

Orange Peels, Pride and Productivity

“I frequently received letters from custodians after we played an away game telling me our basketball team had left the locker room neater and cleaner than anyone who had visited during the year. The towels were put in bins, soap was picked up off the shower floor, and so forth. The locker rooms were clean when we departed because I asked the players to pick up after themselves. I believe this is just common courtesy. Somebody’s going to have to clean it up, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be the person who messed it up.”

->Advisor Takeaway: Set an example: Everyone picks up after themselves, office is always in top shape, your appearance is neat and your communication is thorough.

Winners Make the Most Mistakes

“My coach at Purdue, Piggy Lambert, constantly reminded us: ‘The team that makes the most mistakes will probably win.’ That may sound a bit odd, but there’s a great deal of truth in it. The doer makes mistakes. The individual who is mistake-free is also probably sitting around doing nothing. And that’s a very big mistake.”

->Advisor Takeaway: Rainmakers get rejected more than the average financial advisors—in basketball parlance, they take more shots.

Act Quickly, But Don’t Hurry

“When you hurry, you tend to make mistakes. On the other hand, if you can’t execute quickly, you may be too late to accomplish your task. It’s a delicate but crucial balance.”

->Advisor Takeaway: Share this with your support team. It’s a great illustration of how you’d like them to operate—with good pace, but always in control with attention to detail.

When to Be Dejected

“You are entitled to be dejected when you know you didn’t do what you should have done in preparing yourself to execute near your own ability level. But if you have prepared yourself properly, there is no reason to be downhearted. Disappointed perhaps, but not excessively so.”

->Advisor Takeaway: Think about this the next time you get rejected by a prospect. Evaluate your performance, adjust if necessary and move on. Who’s next?

Make Each Day Your Masterpiece

“Too often we get distracted by what is outside our control. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. You can’t do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come. So make today a masterpiece. You have control over that. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better.”

->Advisor Takeaway: Focus on what you can control and take action.

Thanks, Mr. Wooden for the invaluable lessons.

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are coaches with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols

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