Why John Wooden’s Team Won (Part 2)

This week, we are beyond excited to continue our March Madness series on Coach John Wooden. Mark Cole is once again joined by our special guest, Don Yaeger, who is back to share what he gleaned from his mentorship with Coach Wooden.

For those who don’t know, Don is the author of more than 35 books, eleven of which have become New York Times Best-sellers. He has written books with NFL icons like Walter Payton, Warrick Dunn, Michael Oher, and even John Wooden himself! He is a dear friend of the Maxwell Leadership Podcast team and of John Maxwell, so we are extremely happy to have Don back for our post game discussion.

Our BONUS resource for this series is the ‘Why John Wooden’s Team Won Worksheet,” which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.

READ THE TRANSCRIPT

Mark Cole:       Welcome to the Maxwell Leadership podcast, the podcast that adds value to leaders, who multiply value to others. I'm Mark Cole. I'm the CEO of Maxwell Leadership, and today I am yet again excited to continue our series on John Wooden. In fact, today we're learning about part two of why John Wooden's team won.

Let me pause right here, because today I'm joined again by Don Yeager, but if you've not heard Part 1, last week's podcast, you really do want to hear it. The stories of Don Yaeger about Coach Wooden, what John shared with us, really does build to what we're experiencing today. This is Part 2, I do encourage you soon to go back and catch Part 1.

As I mentioned, Don Yaeger is back with us this week, and I really couldn't be more excited, because Don, I thought our conversation last week was truly inspiring.

I think today it's going to continue. I know you're one of our Maxwell thought leaders. I know that you host Corporate Competitor podcast, but today you're the Maxwell Leadership podcast friend that talks about being mentored by Coach Wooden. Those of you that don't know, Don is the author of more than 35 books, 11 of which have become New York Times bestsellers. He's written incredible books with NFL icons like Walter Payton, Warrick Dunn, Michael Oher. He's even written a book with John Wooden himself. He's a dear friend of mine, a dear friend of John Maxwell.

Today we're extremely happy, excited, to have Don back for our post-game discussion. As always, we have a free fill-in-the-blank PDF worksheet for you, which we call our bonus resource. If you'd like to download this, please go to maxwellpodcast.com/win. Click on the Bonus Resource button.

All right, here we go. Again, it's game time. Here is John C. Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  Number four. The fourth thing John Wooden did, was that he motivated his players to fulfill their roles as part of the team. The law of the net says all players have a place, of course, where they add the most value. Let me explain to you what I mean by that.

During our time of conversing, he said to me, "John, I recruited to UCLA a lot of average shooters," and again, remember what he went for was quickness. He said, "if I have a quick ball player that couldn't shoot well, or I had a great shooter, that was not quick, I always took the quick player who couldn't shoot well. I never took those great shooters that weren't quick."

The average basketball players score, I averaged increasing it 10 percentage points when they went from high school to college. When he said that, I said, "Coach, how could you take the average basketball player, and how could you take him, that maybe was a 35% shooter in high school, and make him a 45% shooter in college? In college, the defenses are tougher. How could you up a guy's average 10%?" Here's what he said. Remember, we're talking about finding a player, finding their role. He said, "Every basketball player has a spot on the floor where they shoot the very best; every ball player does. There's no such thing as a basketball player that is equally competent in shooting all over the floor. Every player has their spot."

"Sidney Wicks, about 11 foot over on the left-hand side, that was his spot. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, about four feet from the basket with a sky hook, right in front of the basket, that was his spot. In other words, every player has their spot. My job as a coach, the first couple of months during the early practice times, I would watch my players, especially my freshman players, until I would discover their spot."

"When I discovered their spot," he said, "I would take a chalk, and I would go out to the floor and I'd draw a circle. I'd say, "This is where you shoot in games. In fact, with the exception of a layup, if you shoot anywhere else in games, except this spot, look over to the bench because I'll be asking you to come and sit with me, because when you don't shoot in your spot, that's a conscious decision to disobey." A turnover, that's no big deal. Humanly, we make turnovers. He said, "I didn't take players out for turnovers, but when they decided to shoot somewhere else besides our designated place, that's a conscious decision. I pull you out of the game for that." Then he said, "I would tell the players, it's my job now to design plays that'll get your shots in your spot. It's your job to get to your spot."

He said, "I design plays that would allow these players to shoot from the place on the court where they were the best, and the most effective." As I'm listening to him, I'm saying, here's a coach, and here's a leader who, again, understood the value of nicheing his people on the team correctly. Then I put in a couple quotes of John Wooden, it'll kind of help us there. "A person must be interested in finding the best way, not in having their own way." Then, I love this one, he said this with a twinkle in his eye to me, he said, "John, you know what? At UCLA teamwork is not a preference, it's a requirement." I did say, "Do you prefer to play team ball?" It's a requirement.

Number five. He paid attention to fundamentals and details. I'm proud of the classic detail illustration, it was the first day in practice. He'd go to the locker room and he'd teach all of his players how to put on their socks. He'd sit on the bench and he'd say, "Every time you put on basketball socks, do it like I did." He would sit and he would literally show them how to put it on. Then he'd watch them all. They had to practice putting on socks until it pleased him, because the number one enemy of a basketball player is blisters. "If you put socks on the way I tell you, you'll never have blisters."

What's so funny is I've heard some of his ball players who became coaches, and the first thing they do is teach their players how to put on their socks. John Wooden said, in your notes, "Perfection is an impossibility, but striving for perfection is not. Do the best you can." That's what counts.

I asked him, "John, what do you miss most about coaching?" He looked at me, said, "Not the games. What I miss is the practices. I loved the practices, because if you practice correctly, the game is a given. That's why I love the expression, 'make every day your masterpiece'."

I said, "Talk to me about practice since you love practice so much." He said, "As I would watch my players practice, every once in a while you got a player and he's just dogging it; he's just not giving you a hundred percent. I'd go over to that player, and I'd say, now you're not giving me a hundred percent today and you need to up it. I would make sure they understood this point. I would tell them, you can't give me 50% today, and make up for it tomorrow. If you only give me 50% today, you've lost 50%, because you can't tomorrow give me 150%. You can't do that."

In fact, he laughed. He said, "I keep telling Bill Walton when he broadcast all those games, quit saying that the player out there on the floor is given 110%." I call him on the phone and say, "Bill, you can't give 110%. It's impossible. The most anybody can ever give us a hundred percent, and very few people ever do that. You can't give more than you have to give. If you give 50% today, you can't give 150. You can't say, well, tomorrow I'm going to work twice as hard." He said, "It's impossible. You can only work as hard as you can work. And they can't work any harder." If you leave 50% today, you never make it up. It's forever lost.

I thought to myself, wow boy, do I need to approach every day of my life that same way. Well, I'll slack off today, but tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. Then I had that wonderful quote by John Wooden, who said, "Once the opportunity arrives, It's too late to prepare."

Wow. Once the opportunity arrives, it's too late to prepare. That's why, when people come to me and say, "I'm not in a leadership position now, but boy, if I ever get one of those positions, I'm going to learn how to be a leader." Once opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare. You should be preparing right now to be the leader so that when the day comes, you're ready for it.

Remember this. If you're given a position, you'll always be over your head, but if you grow into a position, you'll only be over your head for a short time, and then you'll grow beyond it. The only way to keep from being over your head on a continual basis is to grow into your position. Then, one more quote of his before we go to another reason why he was so successful as a head coach; he said, "If you prepare properly, you may be outscored, but you will never lose. You'll always win when you make the full effort to do the best of which you're capable."

In fact, he told me there were a few times when they truly lost a game, he would walk off the floor. He said many times, "I was not one bit discouraged or disappointed, because my team gave best effort. There are times we walked off and we won, and I was ticked." He said, he called it a cheap victory. He said "We won, but we didn't give it our best effort." He said, "What you strive for as a leader, is not the win. You strive for best effort. That's what you strive for, best effort."

Number six, I think the sixth reason he was successful as a coach and a leader is that he worked well with others. He had the ability to work well with his players. John Wooden has this expression, "If you listen to them, they'll listen to you." When he told me that, when I was with him that day in February, and he basically said, "I think too many leaders, too many coaches, don't listen enough to their players." When John Wooden said that to me, that if you listen to them, they'll listen to you, I thought how true that is.

He was so proud, as I start to close down this lesson a little bit, he was so proud of his relationship with his players. In fact, in our time while I was talking to him, the phone would ring, and it was some of his ex-players. Many of them call him every week. A few of them call him a few times a week. Every year they get together as a team, although ex-UCLA basketball players, they come together. I'm talking about players he had 30, 40 years ago. They come back and he said, "I'm surprised that a lot of my players obviously went with the pros," but I think he said he's got 11 players that became pastors, and 14 players that became attorneys.

He said, "I'm just so proud of them, because gone and they've fulfilled their role. By the way, John Wooden told me that his hero was Mother Teresa. He said he never had the opportunity to meet her personally. He loves a quote of Mother Teresa's that's in your notes, "A life not lived for others is not a life."

I thought to myself, here's a guy that modeled that for us. I trust that you just take these nuggets of John Wooden's life, feast on them, and look at yourself, and hopefully, maybe it'll have the same effect it had on me. You'll say to yourself that when I get older, I want to be just like him.

Mark Cole:       Hey and welcome back. Don, before we dig into the lesson, you've done a lot of corporate competitor podcasts now. I think we're 80 some, how many episodes are we in?

John Maxwell:  I think we're in the late eighties right now. Yes.

Mark Cole:       Okay. Give me one standout, and it can't be John Maxwell. Just me one little quick standout here.

Don Yaeger:     You know, I have to tell you, we did one recently with Condoleezza Rice. To have Secretary Rice... Although I referred to her that way, and she says, "Just call me Condi." Like, I really felt like I should call her Condi. She was so personable. Many people don't know, first woman ever invited to join Augusta National Golf Club. She's a great, great golfer, and incredible competitor.

Her father was a high school football coach, and he didn't have a son. He had Condi Rice who grew up at his side, and would tug on his jacket, and say, "Dad, they're lining up to run a screen. You better know what to do here." She knows the game of football, probably better than you, me, or anybody else that's listening here.

What I loved about Condi was, I asked her, you were a member of the Football Playoff Committee. You were evaluating what college football teams got to play in the playoffs. What did you look for to determine whether one team was actually better than another? She said, "I always knew that the great teams have an identity. You know what you're going to get when you face them, they're either going to be super tough, or super fast, or enormously offensively creative. Whatever it is, their identity is solid, and they don't change it week to week."

She said, "That's a great lesson in that for businesses too. The great businesses, our great organizations, we need to have an identity. We need to stay firm to it, much like we do our culture, and make sure that then everybody knows what they can expect from us when they choose to compete with us."

Mark Cole:       I love it because in every one of these podcasts, you pull out something that this world class incredible CEO, top leader in the world, learn from sports, learn from experiencing teamwork, before they ever got their current assignment where they're making such a great deal.

Hey, if you're listening to the podcast, you're looking for an incredible, incredible resource, you want to hear from Don on the Corporate Competitor podcast. Go to your favorite podcast player, go ahead and subscribe this week. You want to get it every single time it comes out.

Let's do talk about this concept. Maybe even what you talked about, Condoleezza Rice, this idea that Coach Wooden knew how to motivate his players to fulfill their role as a part of the team. When I heard John teaching this, Don, I really thought about Jim Collins. You have to put the right player in the right seat on the right bus, right? We've all read that. We've heard that. What is it?

You do a lot of work in your business. Your day to day life is not just writing these New York Times' best sellers. You work with teams on culture. How is it that we can take Coach Wooden, and then put into our teammates as leaders, a way to fulfill their role effectively?

Don Yaeger:     I think the most important thing that Coach Wooden did well, and you even heard John describe it, is that he didn't leave... There was no ambiguity in what your role was. There are a lot of people that struggle in organizations because we, the leader, might say, "I know what your role is," but it's never been wonderfully articulated as John Wooden did, drawing a circle and saying, "this is your spot."

He didn't actually really draw a circle and say, this is the only place from which you can shoot. The point was very clear, here's your role. We have five players on the floor at any given time, so we don't want five people who are all shooting from the same spot. We don't need five people who are complementary, but their roles have to be well-defined.

That's a great weakness in a lot of organizations, a lot of teams, is that the leader knows what is expected of the team, and the teammates, but it's not explained so well that they can actually go out and execute on what it is that is expected of them.

Mark Cole:       That goes right into the fifth point that John makes in today's lesson; that Coach Wooden paid attention to fundamentals and detail. John does a book, he's written a book for network marketing. He teaches all the time about the rule of five, the five fundamentals, and we know John's, because we've talked about it on this podcast before; every day I read, every day I write, every day I think, every day I file, every day I ask questions. John goes through his whole routine. He does it every single day.

You see coaches, great coaches, Coach Wooden certainly, great leaders. They figure out the fundamentals of what success looks like. They do those every day, and they allow themselves to have patience for the fundamentals to effectively and eventually pay off.

I know for me, I started, Don, as you know, I started as a tele-sales person picking up phones dialing... I can still tell you to this day, for two and a half years, every day, what made that day successful. It was 70 dials, which would lead to 25 people that I would speak with, which led to five people out of those 25 that would say, "Yes, we'll come to a John Maxwell event."

You know why I can give you those numbers, and I haven't done that for 18 years, because the fundamentals of every single day going through that activity is what yielded results, and those results yielded to being promoted, and being promoted led to what I get to do today, and that's sit here with you, Don, and talk leadership. I go back to the fundamentals of success.

Talk to me about what you noted in your time with Coach Wooden about the fundamentals of business, of the fundamentals of leadership.

Don Yaeger:     This is so directly on point, Mark. One of my favorite conversations with Coach Wooden one day was, I was talking to him about practice plans around how do you make sure that you're getting... Again, remember, there's a limited amount of time you're allowed to practice, and so you want to make sure that everything happens in speed, in order, right? You want to make sure that the players are moving from one place to another so that everything you're trying to cover is mastered in that time.

Coach Wooden had in his condominium, one of those old library file boxes, like when you used to go to the library back in the day, and you'd look at cards that would tell you where the book could be found? In there he had the practice plan for every day that he coached.

He kept the plans.

Mark Cole:       Wow.

Don Yaeger:     They were four by six cards, and on it he had everything listed. On day 81 of the season in 19-whatever year. He would do the exact same thing on day 81, the next year, and the year after that. Every year he was always looking to improve it. He had disciplines, he had structure to what he did, and that gave everyone confidence that he knew what he was doing. It gave him security to build upon a strong foundation. You're not trying to recreate the wheel every year. I love that.

That was a huge learning point for me, develop those foundations, develop those five things you do every day, develop whatever it is for you. Then rinse, repeat, right? Rinse, wash, repeat. Do it, and each and every time you begin that process, you just get more confident, you just get better, you just get stronger, and those around you gain more confidence in you.

Mark Cole:       It's brilliant, Don. Podcast listeners, I know we're going to get all kind of comments from last week and this week, because it's brilliant how you're bringing this to life. We've all said this. This is cliche, right? Success is not an accident. Oh, it's so easy to say that, but when you talk about a coach that chronologically laid out and recorded what he did in practice every single day, every single week, so he could go back and reference it the next year to improve on it. Success is not an accident, podcast viewers, podcast listeners. You are going to have to be consistent.

Hey, let's talk about this, Don. John Wooden had this five steps of teaching. We were talking about this before in the studio here, before we started recording. You talked to him a little bit about this. Tell me a little bit about this five steps of teaching.

Don Yaeger:     John wouldn't believe there was a five step process to taking something you wanted to get other people to learn, and actually taking it from your mind, and into their habits.

The first was explanation. You had to explain to others what it was they were expected to do, and why. Second, would be demonstration, and that's where Coach Wooden as the coach, would walk out and actually do what he was explaining to them that he wanted them to do. If he wanted a pass to be done with two hands, here's how it should be done. Then he would ask for imitation; for one of the players to do the exact same thing. Then he would correct anything that they might not have done right. There's step four; correction. Then the fifth one was repetition. Now you do it, and you do it again.

I remember asking Coach Wooden about it. I was so fascinated. I loved that idea. I loved the application of those five steps; explanation, demonstration, imitation, correction, repetition. I said, "Coach Wooden, tell me, over all these years, that was your model?" He goes, "Well, in years since, I've really come to realize it's an eight-step process." I thought, wow, it's like John Maxwell and his 21 irrefutable laws that weren't all irrefutable, right?

Mark Cole:       Yeah.

Don Yaeger:     He changed one in the rewrite of the book, but it's the idea. He says, there are eight. I said, wow, coach, eight? He goes, "Yeah. It's explanation, demonstration, imitation, correction, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition." He said, you're going to get better every time you practice it. Coach Wooden moved his five steps to eight steps, but the point was always well made, that if you have a process, people can follow a process. People can appreciate and learn through a process.

Mark Cole:       Well, and again, he's got double the amount of second place of championship rings. We talked about last week. I sprung on you a last minute question, a buzzer-beater question in the podcast last week, could Coach Wooden win if he were coaching today? It was a brilliant answer. Let that be a teaser for those of you that had not heard episode one yet.

Isn't it true, when you look at a coach that remarkably performs better than any other coach in history, and then it comes back to these fundamentals and the discipline. How true is that in business? Business Leader podcast listeners, you're leading your business. You have a good year, you have a bad year, and you let that determine your leadership. It's neither. It's your ability to rebound and to continue using consistency, to be effective in your teams, and be effective in what you produce.

I want to go to John's last point, Don, before we run out of time. He said that Coach Wooden worked well with others. He just knew how to work with others. What are some of your observations from Coach Wooden about this "working well with others"?

Don Yaeger:     Well, one of the things that coach did so well was he understood that he had to touch, love on, and appreciate each member of his team consistently. He also knew, he shared with me, that you have to learn how to manage your... remember you have a starting five, but your roster is often 13 players, and Coach Wooden used to talk to me about the importance of how you manage and lead your 13th player on the roster, because you don't want that person to become disaffected, and become a cancer.

You also want to understand that two years later, that 13th player could be one of your starting five if they continue to know that you love on them, you're invested in them, and that you are you're there to help them grow. That idea that he worked well with others, was something he made as a personal mission for each player. He didn't just do it as a corporate entity, the team. He loved on you, Mark, different than how he would love on me, Don. That ability to do that, and to be individual in his instruction and his caring, allowed him to derive the best from each of them.

Mark Cole:       That's beautiful. Hey, I want to switch gears a minute. You were talking earlier, tell me about this idea that everyone just wants a chance, when it comes to business.

Don Yaeger:     Well, when I knew this was a March madness themed conversation, I shared with you, Mark, that I think that one of the things that I love about March madness, that I think most people love about March madness, why is it the most watched college sporting event over the course of time? It's because people appreciate the idea that the underdog team, number 16, always has a chance because all we want in life, most of us, is just the opportunity to compete.

What we want is the opportunity to get on the field, to show you that I am bringing my very best, and that if you don't bring your best, I'm probably going to end up as the victor. That's one of the beauties of March madness. It's one of the beauties of true open competition where things aren't just closed off to the big guys. It's a lesson that each of us appreciate, we desire, and it's in my mind, a real reason why so many people love this time of year in the sports calendar.

Mark Cole:       Yeah. We have so many international podcast listeners, and every one of you, you need to come to the United States and just hang out during the month of March, because it is craziness. We've got pools, we've got all this stuff.

Thinking of March madness, one year ago we were narrowing down to the 2021 champions, which were the Baylor Bears coached by our friend, Scott Drew. You, since that time last year, have spent countless hours with last year's coach of the championship Bears, and you and he have written a book called Culture of Joy. It's going to be available in May. People can go ahead and get it on Amazon. Just give us just one little snippet. I know you talked a little bit about it last week, but give us one little snippet of Culture of Joy.

Don Yaeger:     What I love about what I learned there is... I have to admit, I did not know Scott Drew before I was engaged and asked to become the writer of his book. The one thing you wonder about people is, often there's a picture of them and it's relayed to the world. Then, there's a picture you begin to paint for yourself that is sometimes different when you get to know them closely. I have to tell you, there are very few people, John Wooden would be one, Scott Drew would be another, that their audio and video just completely aligned. Everything about them, it just screams authenticity.

There's a reason why young people love playing for this guy. It's because there's no drop off. The coach you get in that post-game press conference is exactly the same person they got in the locker room after the game. That authenticity is the thing that really stood out to me, and there's a reason why he's successful. There's a reason why he will be successful for as long as he chooses to coach. It's that connection he can make by being his authentic self, both to the public, and to his players.

Mark Cole:       Going back to Coach Wooden, and just what you learned from him, I think probably the most overused, incorrect word in corporate cultures is the word, we are a "team". We've got this team dynamic. The truth is, that many of these people, they don't feel like they're on a team. They feel like they're on an island. I'd love to know what are the elements that take a group from a collection of individuals to a team?

Don Yaeger:     Well, without question, the answer to that really comes down to a sense of purpose. Do they believe they are engaged in something of meaning? I think that you become a team, when you begin caring for the person to your right and left. That's just as true in a sporting context, as it is in a corporate context. Do I care about others in the organization, or do all I care about is my aggrandizement, my paycheck. If that's all I care about, if each of us only care about our individual achievement, then we could be a really good group, but we'll never be a great team. You're right, it's the most overused. In fact, it's a question I ask often on my podcast, what is the difference? How do you build that bridge?

First part of it is, you have to find a collective sense of purpose. They have to believe they're doing something that's valuable, and that has a long term power beyond just my paycheck. Then, you have to know who you serve. There is a really unique place there that the best teams I've worked with, feel who they serve. They don't just know who they serve, they feel it. It's where... Mark, I had the chance to be at your IMC, where you had all these Maxwell certified coaches, and some of those who were so impacted by the relationship they've had with the organization, had the chance to come share how that impact has impacted them. That makes your team feel more empowered, because they know who they serve, and they know why it matters. That's a real missing link for a lot of teams today, is that we say we know who we're serving, but we don't ever go out and try to reach out and understand, how is what we're doing changing their lives.

Mark Cole:       It's what John says, Don, that people follow people and then vision. So many times we, as leaders, we think the hottest, coolest, even sexiest vision is going to be the thing that draws incredible people, creates great loyalty, and gives people this buy-in to ownership concept. Yet, everything you just said, everything John has said, is people buy in to the leader first, and then the vision.

Leaders, I'm just going to tell you, how are you when people that know you the most, get to see you when you are at your rawest. John says success is when those that know you the most, think the most of you.

With that kind of concept, I want to segue to the last question, Don, and this has been incredible. We will have you back; we're getting great reviews from you being here. I heard a little story from you some time ago, about the letters to his wife. Coach Wooden had this practice, and it absolutely impacted me, because you saw Coach Wooden on the basketball court. Rah Rah, 10 championships, got it. You hear people like John Maxwell and Don Yeager talking about mentoring. I got it. He's full of leadership. Tell me about this other side of Coach Wooden and this letters to his wife.

Don Yaeger:     Mm, it's my favorite part of this opportunity to have learned from Coach Wooden. One of the things that became a really important part of his life, his wife, only woman he ever kissed. He fell in love with her in high school, they got married, they had two children. They were this amazing couple, but she passed away 25 years before he did.

He lived to be 99, and she passed away 25 years earlier on the 21st day of the month. Every month for the next 25 years, on the 21st day, John Wooden got up and he wrote his wife a love letter. They were these beautiful letters. They were just handwritten. He would then trifold them, put them in an envelope. Then he would take that month's letter, seal it, go take it and put it on her side of the bed. He would take last month's letter and he would put it in a box. There were boxes of these letters in his little condo. I remember I knew he did this, but I never really understood it completely.

Finally, one day I was there for my mentoring session, which we mentioned earlier, I do every other month for 12 years, but my mentoring session happens to fall on the 21st of that month. I get there to his condo, and he says, "Don, would you sit over here? I'm writing my letter to my wife."

I watched him just sit there, beautifully handwritten letter. He folds it, seals it, goes puts it on the bed, puts the other one in the box, and he comes back and he sits down, and he says, "Now we can go. Now we can start." I said, "Coach, I just have to ask. You've been writing these letters for..." At that stage, whatever it was, 20-something years. I said, "Is there anything that is in those letters that you wished you had said to her when she was alive?"

And he looked at me and he said, "Oh," he said, "Unfortunately, one of the great mistakes we make as husbands, as wives, as parents, as leaders, is we don't say the things we should have said when people were there and are present." He said, "I wished I had said all of these things to her when she was alive."

I was so moved by it, that I got home and I... This was November-ish, probably of that particular year, and I would only know that because well I made a choice, and that next year, that next month at Christmas, I actually presented my wife with a box of 52 letters. One that I had written for her to open every week for the next year, because I wanted her to know the things that I would write about her, if she were not here today.

I'm sorry, this is very emotional, but I don't share this often. This really got me because I watched her and I watched the joy that those letters really brought into our relationship, and into her life. The next year I did it again, and she just opened letter number 642 last Friday. I love it, because it's changed the dynamic of our relationship in so many ways. What a great way to have John Wooden change my life. He taught me to love people that I have in my life today, and not worry about writing them letters when they're passed.

Mark Cole:       Wow. I told you, before we started the first episode, that Don Yaeger is one of the best storytellers I've ever met. I'm watching our producers and people that are in the studio with us helping us, just all locked in. I don't even know if we're still recording, because I think they just quit recording and quit paying attention, just to lock into this story that you told and Don, what a great underscore of what we believe here at Maxwell Leadership. That is, that success really is determined by those closest to you.

I'm now sitting here going, I need to go home. I need to write a letter. I need to write a letter and say the things that I wish I could say if I didn't have the opportunity to those that I love, I hope you've been challenged. Not only just by this last story. Don, you are a gift to Maxwell Leadership being one of our thought leaders.

You're a gift to this podcast in helping us today, and I hope all of you viewing, or listening, really caught something in this whole episode on why John Wooden's team won. I really hope you capture something; that it's because he won on the inside. He won with those closest to him first, and then he would win with other things in his life that mattered to him, as well.

I hope you enjoyed this. I do want to finish with a great comment, rather from Joseph. Joseph tuned into How To Gain Influence podcasts. He said, "I love the show notes to follow along with John. It's a great topic. I'm using the concept from this episode to influence my kids and their JV basketball team."

What a way to end, Joseph, you brought your kids into it. You brought basketball during March madness. You're using Coach Wooden and John Maxwell's leadership lessons to become better. What a great series. What a great time.

Hey, this is Mark Cole on behalf of John Maxwell, on behalf of our entire Maxwell Leadership team, on behalf of Don Yaeger and our Maxwell Leadership thought leaders. Be well; do well; lead well, because everyone deserves to be led well.

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