Let me give so much time to the improvement of myself that I shall have no time to criticize others.
Time is precious. Time is limited. Time that is used in a negative manner is now not available to do something positive.
Coach Wooden often mentioned he never heard his father, Joshua, say an unkind word about anyone. Joshua Wooden wasted no time on the negative. Instead, he chose to use his time to read Scripture and poetry to his three sons on the back porch of the farm after the chores were done.
Coach made his best effort to follow his father’s example in this regard.
Coach Wooden wanted his players to concentrate on self-improvement and not waste time being critical of each other. One of his three rules for basketball practice was never criticize a teammate. If a player wasted time doing this, he was subject to being kicked out of practice.
One of Coach’s favorite maxims went hand in hand with this idea, regarding the best way to use time: “Time spent getting even would be better spent trying to get ahead.”
The positive use of time was a core value of Coach’s approach to his daily activities. He recognized that he would need as much time as possible to focus on one of his primary objectives: constant improvement.
In his book Wooden on Leadership with Steve Jamison, Coach describes how this focus on constant improvement and lifelong learning helped him develop his leadership skills:
I believe leadership itself is largely learned.
Whatever coaching and leadership skills I possess were learned through listening, observation, study, and then trial and error along the way.
In my opinion, this is how most leaders improve and progress. For me, the process of learning leadership continued for 40 years until the day I walked off the court for the last time as head coach—March 31, 1975. In truth, my learning continued even after that.
The best leaders understand that to successfully compete at any level requires continuous learning and improvement.
The most effective leaders are those who realize it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts most.