Coach John Wooden as Your Mentor

Coach John Wooden as Your Mentor

Many of you may know that I am very fond of the late Coach John Wooden. He was an amazing man and he has been a mentor of mine for many years now. I have over 30 books in my library either written by or about Coach Wooden and I routinely re-read these books to learn new insights. While his accomplishments in the world of College Basketball are legendary, he has even more to teach us about life.

Coach Wooden carried a little index card that his father gave him as his high school graduation gift. On this card were the following six guidelines:

  1. Be true to yourself
  2. Make each day your masterpiece
  3. Help others
  4. Drink deeply from good books
  5. Make friendship a fine art
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day

Coach Wooden found this gift to be more valuable than any material possession because the reminders served him for a lifetime. I have assembles a collection of saying attributed to coach Wooden that I call ‘Woodenisms’. Here are three of these sayings. I will relate each one to the dental environment:

 “Do not mistake activity for achievement.”

What a wonderful, simple reminder! Too often we are busy, but not necessarily productive. This concept applies to every team member as well as the dentist. Think about how you can organize your priorities so that you are productive and that you activity leads to achievement. On the administrative side, there is nothing more important than keeping the schedule filled! I will recognize that this task is daunting today and will sometimes require 100% of your time. However, time spent on keeping the schedule full leads to achievement. 

“You may make mistakes,

but you are not a failure until you start blaming someone else.”

Another brilliant concept. We will all make mistakes and the key is to take responsibility and use each mistake as a learning opportunity. For the Dentists reading this, I would encourage you to create a safe environment in your office where people can make mistakes and learn from them. Of course, we don’t want to encourage mistakes, but when they happen learn from them and take responsibility. 

“It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

Truer words were never spoken. New information in dentistry is happening at an unbridled pace. In order to provide state-of-the-art care, you must be a continuing education junkie. One of the traits that I have observed in the most successful Dentists is that they are ‘lifelong learners’ and find much more enjoyment in the dental profession as a result. Consider building a library of audio and video programs for you and your team. Here are links to three amazing sources for your library:

Dr. Gordon Christensen, Practical Clinical Courses

Dr. Frank Spear, Spear Education   

Dr. David Hornbrook

I’ll close this blog post with a quote by Coach Wooden about success: “Success is peace of mind that is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming”. Here is a link for the official website for Coach Wooden:

Consider Coach Wooden as your mentor. Keep Smiling!