The pursuit of continual improvement

By Jill Weisensel – I recently started coaching softball again and it has reminded me of how much I believe in the continual pursuit of bettering yourself.  Being around athletes who are training every day to improve is no doubt inspiring, and when I think about coaches who’ve inspired me, I always find legendary basketball coach John Wooden near the top of my list.  I wanted to share with you some of my favorite insights from Coach Wooden.

Be enthusiastic about your work:

“Without enthusiasm, you cannot work up to your fullest ability and potential; you’re just going through the motions.  And just going through the motions won’t bring you to the level of competitive greatness we seek, whether in basketball, business or life.”

You must give in order to receive:

“The sharing of ideas, information, creativity, responsibilities and tasks is a priority of good leadership. The only thing that is not shared is blame.  A strong leader accepts blame and gives the credit (when deserved) to others.”

Don’t be afraid to fail:

“If you are afraid to fail, you will never do the things you are capable of doing.  If you have thoroughly prepared yourself and are ready to give it all you’ve got, there is no shame if you fail-nothing to fear in failure.  But fear of failure is what often prevents one from taking action.”

Pay attention to the little things:

As a coach, Wooden was known for teaching his players how to put on their socks and shoes on the first day of practice.  The lesson: Every detail matters.  Making fine point changes, in almost every aspect of life, can make a huge impact.

Be loyal to yourself and to your organization:

“A leader who has loyalty is the leader whose team I wish to be a part of.  And so do others.  Most people, the overwhelming majority of us, wish to be in an organization whose leadership cares about them, provides fairness and respect, dignity and consideration…. be loyal and you will subsequently lead an organization that will not waffle in the wind when things get tough.”

I view these concepts as “small steps” towards a larger goal. People often ask me, “How are you doing today Jill?” My typical answer is, “I’m better than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow.” If you embrace the pursuit of continual improvement, these are great words to live by.  Give them a try!

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