Wooden’s Two Principles of Cooperation

The fourth block on the base of John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is cooperation.

This morning at church, I was on the setup crew. That’s one of the joys of renting space that has other uses during the week. The sound equipment is particularly heavy. You might move some of it yourself. But things like the sound board and the box of cables is a two man job. If you arrive early, you will have to wait to lug it all in. When help arrives, the work gets done in a flash. 

John Wooden discovered two principles of cooperation that helped him build winning teams. 

The first is that gentleness is a better method of getting cooperation than harshness is. 

Early in our nation’s history, a corporal was directing three men as they attempted to move a heavy log. He barked at them, “All right, men. One, two, three, lift!” 

As they were struggling to lift the log, a man in an overcoat approached and said to the corporal, “Why don’t you help them move the log?” 

The corporal replied briskly, “Sir, I am a corporal!” 

Without hesitation, the man in the overcoat joined the men and lifted the log easily into place. 

That man was George Washington. 

Yes, gentleness gets the job done far better than a superior positional leader barking at his subordinates and not lending a hand when it is most needed. 

The second principle is a team can accomplish far more together than individuals can when they work alone. 

If you keep up with sports, you know a team with a superstar player and a cast of nobodies surrounding him doesn’t win games. In entertainment, a poor script portrayed by star performers doesn’t make a good show. A great product without a solid sales effort behind it won’t be profitable or help very many people. 

It takes a team to win a ball game. No matter how good the star player is he can’t play every position at once. Unless every player does his best, the team won’t accomplish as much as it can when everyone does his job. Teams win when they unite behind a common purpose and work together to accomplish it. That means any personal agendas each might have must take second place to what’s good for the whole team. 

If you want to build and support a great team, remember these two things. First, gentleness is more effective than harshness. Second, a united group can accomplish far more than any one person can alone. 

Do that and your team will enjoy the taste of victory on a regular basis. 

Now that’s a diet anyone can live with.