[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Reflecting on Qualities of Success

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I have always been self-reflective and conscientious. Though not entirely an introvert, I enjoy time alone, that too quiet solitude, where possible. Most of my reflective time is spent on wondering what are the right things to do as a person or what makes someone a “success”. Naturally, I love philosophy for it needs extensive inward focus.

There is quite a bit of literature on the subject of what it means to be a good and successful person.  My quest has been to find the ultimate answer to the question of success – of course not in a material sense, but in a true human, soulful sense. For sure, I know I won’t find the one answer, so my discoveries continue. I have found a few so far. I write about one below and will write about others soon. [Hint: Dungy...]

John Wooden’s achievements has been unprecedented. He was the genius coach behind UCLA’s college basketball team which won more championship titles than any other college – unbeaten record even today. In his later years, he gave a lecture (and later a book) titled The Pyramid of Success. The pyramid is made of qualities/attributes we must have for winning in life. I love analyzing models, so this pyramid has been a sweet pudding savoring my appetite for a while!

Pyramid of Success

John Wooden's Pyramid of Success

While searching for the graphic, I stumbled upon this article about John Wooden written for a local newspaper in Tennessee by Barbara Gunn. She quotes John Wooden from a Toasmaster article she had read:

“When I was an English teacher, I found out some parents made their youngsters feel they had failed if they didn’t get an A or B. I never liked that definition of success,” he told the Toastmaster interviewer. “I wanted to come up with something that I hoped would make me a better teacher and give those under my supervision something with which to aspire, other than high marks in the classroom or more points in athletic endeavors.”

Thus came his pyramid. The qualities in the pyramid are not about becoming a sports star or going to Harvard business school or being a math genius. They are the time-tested personal qualities everyone should cultivate – be it a pauper or king. Success (material & non-material) and satisfaction will follow wherever we go and whatever we do.

Now, take some time tonight to reflect on the pyramid.

Mr. Wooden lived exactly 100 years (1910-2010) to attest for the truthfulness of the pyramid. Is that good enough to convince us to take his words seriously?