Many years ago, I heard John Maxwell talk about interviewing his childhood hero, John Wooden, the hall of fame basketball coach at UCLA. John talked about the time he invested as he prepared for the meeting which included writing multiple pages of questions so that he could make the most use of Coach Wooden’s time. He wanted to learn from one of his favorite leaders. In an interview, he talked about how he connected with Coach Wooden during a networking event when he asked someone the question “Who do you know that I should know?”. It’s such a great question. John also talked about how Coach Wooden was like a “well” filled with wisdom of life principles. It was inspiring.
A few weeks ago, I also got to interview one of my leadership heroes. His name is Bob Stoops and I also connected with him through a friend while networking when I asked the question “who is someone on your wish list” that you would like to meet and interview one day. When they turned the question to me, I shared Bob Stoops, also a hall of fame coach!
Coach Stoops became the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma when I was a young manager experiencing a lot of challenges in the workplace during the late 90’s. I remember the confidence that permeated when he spoke to the media and how inspiring it was. Since then, he went on to become the all-time winningest college football coach at Oklahoma that includes a national championship and 10 conference titles and now has a statue just outside the stadium next to other legendary coaches. During my interview, we talked about his book “No Excuses: The Making of a Head Coach”” and some of his stories he shared about family, football, and leadership lessons for everyone. As I reflect on my interview with Coach Stoops, I thought about some of the lessons I learned and that impacted me the most during my visit. I hope you find value in them as well!
1. Surround yourself with great people. Coach Stoops played for his father Ron Sr. at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio. He later went on to play for hall of fame coach Hayden Fry, then coached with hall of fame coach Barry Alverez, hall of fame coach Bill Snyder, and hall of fame coach Steve Spurrier to just name a few. He was always surrounded by great men in his own program and continues to stay connected to great coaches and players! Who are you surrounded with in your network?
2. See the field (big picture). During the interview, Coach Stoops talked about how his dad taught him a lesson while watching game film in the kitchen as it projected in the refrigerator. He said most people watch the ball during the play, but his dad taught him to see the game. What he was talking about is how they would watch the same play over and over and over until they could see every angle. What do you need to practice in the workplace?
3. Compartmentalize success. Don’t be afraid to change it up each year. One of the stories he shared was how he would take his players to the basketball court one week for some competition to change up practice. He was animated as he shared stories about some of the big lineman dunking the basketball and shooting long range jumpers. What do you need to change up in your daily practices in the workplace?
4. Make others feel important. One of the questions I asked was about the importance of volunteering. He said when visiting with kids at the OU Children’s Hospital, it was important to make the kids feel important. I remember this being one of the Dale Carnegie principles I learned years ago as well. Coach Stoops advocates for the HBC Champions Foundation to support local children’s hospital in the Norman and Oklahoma City area.
5. Have a purpose. During the end of the interview, Coach stoops made a comment that he had found his purpose during his hospital visits. When you know your purpose, life is just different. It’s intentional and choices are easier to make in our every day. Do you know your purpose?
Coach Stoops also talked about the importance of recruiting for character, giving tough love, and pushing through tough times. It was a conversation I will never forget. Coach Stoops is full of wisdom like John Maxwell shared about Coach Wooden and I was so grateful to have the opportunity to visit with him and hear perspective. Many of us know these lessons, but it is great to reflect on how we are doing in these areas to be a better leader. I am also excited to have the opportunity to share with others to help them be better too.
What’s your favorite takeaway from this list? Post in comments or send me a note. I would enjoy hearing from you too.
You pick up a copy of Coach Stoops book “No Excuses: The Making of a Head Coach” here, and listen or watch the full interview on Life in the Leadership Lane podcast Episode 72 which airs on September 4, 2021 on your favorite podcast platform including YouTube. Also, visit HBC Champions Foundation to learn more about how to support children in Norman and OKC area.
Quote of the Day: “Don’t let them get you twice.” Bob Stoops
Call to Action: Who is your leadership hero? Make a list of people that you would like to know more and start asking your network to see if you can make a connection. Use the questions, who do you know that I should know, or just ask who knows your hero! I can’t wait to hear you connect with or have connected with in the past….
This is “Move to Inspire” with Bruce Waller! For more information, call 972-389-5673, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my social media Facebook and Twitter page. Also, check out www.BruceWaller.com to review my leadership book “Find Your Lane” and journal “Milemarkers” both available on amazon. Be sure to subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel for weekly messages to encourage you and others in the workplace! Looking for a Podcast? Check out “Life in the Leadership Lane” on APPLE PODCAST as I talk to leaders making a difference in the workplace! Interested in a book club? Join our book club “CLIMB” on Facebook.