Wooden Wins!- Alertness
Our pyramid of success focus this month will be on Alertness. At American Heritage Charter Schools we celebrate the core value of “Leading with Courage.”
Why Leaders Must Be Alert by Craig Impelman
The first two blocks on the second tier of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success—self-control and alertness—are essential qualities for any leader and team if they are going to perform near to their capability.
A leader with self-control will create consistency. A leader with self-control will resist taking shortcuts irrespective of how alluringly they are presented and how easily they are made available. A leader with self-control will “keep his cool” in the face of adversity.
It is the self-control of the leader that will enable him to maintain alertness for himself and his team members.
In an interview with Steve Churm for a 2005 edition of the OC Metro, Coach was asked, “If you were to give a speech to business school graduates, what are two or three things that you would tell them to do to be successful?”
As you can see in Coach’s response, self-control is critical:
“I would certainly stress listening; I think that very well could be number one.
Secondly, I would tell them not to get absorbed or involved in things in which you have no control.
Finally, concentrate on improving what you can. Work on the things in which you have control to help overcome the things you feel need changed.”
It takes self-control to become a great listener. Sometimes we may be thinking of how we’re going to respond while the other person is talking. The leader who has the self-control to avoid doing this will exhibit a key component of alertness: listening and learning from others.
A leader who listens with alertness will avoid fitting the mold of this Woodenism: “Too many know the last word about everything and the first word about nothing.”
The following is an excerpt from the letter Coach sent to his 1970-71 team in July of 1970 in which he explains he will be available to listen, but also clarifies his role as a leader:
Come in and talk to me whenever you feel like it, but please remember that it isn’t necessarily lack of communication if we fail to agree on your position or the position of another on the team. I am and will always be interested in your problems, but do feel that everyone should do everything possible to work out his own problems rather than become dependent upon others. I have found prayer most helpful when I am troubled and believe that all prayers are heard and answered, even though the answer may be no.
The leader with alertness has the mental quickness to recognize changing circumstances and adjust accordingly. The alert leader is open-minded and constantly facilitating feedback, creating an engaged and energized team committed to constant improvement.
The alert leader is not content at the end of each day simply because “the numbers were good.” Every day, the alert leader asks the question, “What did we do to improve today?”
The alert leader recognizes, as Coach Wooden put it, “When success turns your head, you face failure.”
Key Idea: “Too many know the last word about everything and the first word about nothing.” —John Wooden
It is so easy to get busy with school, sports, homework and activities that we miss everyday opportunities to serve and help others around us. Watch this VIDEO and discuss how the virtues of Alertness and Compassion come into play. How was this man both alert and compassionate? What are your thoughts on the statement “When you can’t do it all, do what you can.” Challenge each other to “do what you can” this month.
Alertness is a valuable character trait that applies to both kids and adults. It means being awake and attentive to one's surroundings, anticipating potential dangers, and making informed decisions. By being alert, individuals are able to respond quickly to changes and make smart decisions that keep them safe and successful. Whether in school, at work, or in their personal lives, being alert helps individuals be proactive and responsive to the world around them, making them better equipped to handle challenges and opportunities.
Consider the following questions:
1. How do you define being alert?
2. In what situations is it important to be alert?
3. How can being alert help you be successful and safe in both your personal and professional life?
4. How can you develop and improve your own level of alertness?
5. Can you think of a time when being alert helped you avoid a negative outcome or take advantage of a positive opportunity?
In the class
Have students take 5-10 minutes to complete the writing prompt.
Writing prompt: Think of a time when you had to be alert. Explain the situation and why being alert was so important. If you had not been alert, what would have happened?
On the field