Simple Disciplines from John Wooden

Success Requires the Clear Communicate of Expectations

Communicating expectations is the first step to achieving team success.

In “Wooden on Leadership” by John Wooden and Steve Jamison, there is a list of expectations that John provided to all his recruits upon coming to UCLA. Here is the list that John provided to his student athletes.

  1. You are in UCLA for an education. I want every boy to earn and receive his degree. Keep that first in your thoughts, but place basketball second.
  2. Do not cut classes and do be on time.
  3. Do not fall behind and do get your work in on time.
  4. Have regular study hours and keep them.
  5. Arrange with your profs in advance when you must be absent.
  6. Do not expect favors. Do your part.
  7. Boys on grant-in-aid should arrange for tutoring through the Athletic Department at the first indication of need.
  8. Work for a high grade point average. Do not be satisfied by merely meeting the eligibility requirements.
  9. Those on campus jobs for grant-in-aid must arrange to get in the required hours. Do your assignment without comparing it with that of another boy.
  10. Earn the respect of everyone, especially of yourself.

There is a lot that you and I can learn from these 10 points; lessons that we can apply to business today.


The first point of John’s list focuses on purpose. It was important to Coach Wooden that each student athlete understood that they were there for an education. For today’s business, this is equivalent to knowing why your organization exists; it’s purpose. While that may seem like an easy question to answer, don’t be too quick to answer.


Points 2, 3, and 7 in John’s list focus on accountability. As leaders and team members, we must be accountable for our own performance. We should be on-time with our participation and when meeting our obligations. Being late for work, meetings, and other responsibilities builds inefficiencies in the organisation, not only for us, but also for all those around us. If we see trouble on the horizon, it is our responsibility to seek help.


Points 4 and 5 are about planning our time effectively. This is more than simple time management. This is about priority management. If you only show in your calendar when you have meetings, then you are not planning your time and priorities effectively. You have to also plan time to get YOUR responsibilities done. This means planning time to be alone for reflection, and developing new strategies for your team and organization. If you don’t plan time for these activities, they will get squeezed out by all the people knocking on your door.


Each of us should work at our highest ability. In points 6, 8, 9 and 10, John is talking about giving all we have to make the organization successful. When we need help, ask. When we can help, help. We should set our standards high and give our best every day. We should never be content with giving the least just to get by, or do enough to be better than others on the team. Give the best that you have every day. That is real success.

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result o self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.

~ John Wooden

What are your thoughts on applying John’s 10 points to your work environment? I would like to hear your comments.