The following story is a great example of the life-lessons that Coach Wooden taught his players. It is something that I continue to pass on, especially when it comes to cleaning up locker rooms and hotels on the road.
"About seven years ago, Coach Wooden and I were in Boise, Idaho, speaking to a group of educators. I don’t think they wanted to hear from me so much; they wanted to hear from Coach. How do I know? It’s simple. When it came to the Questions and Answers segment, I had lots of answers, but nobody asked me a question. They put us up in a high-end hotel. You know, the kind where you get the “His and Hers Terry Cloth Bathrobes?”
The morning after, we were preparing to head to the airport to return home. I was already in the hotel lobby when Nan, Coach’s daughter, asked if I would go up to Coach’s room and help him bring his bags down. As I approached his room, I saw his door was propped open with his neatly-placed luggage. So I walked in.
The 90 year old “Coach of the Century” was washing out the coffee maker in the bathroom sink. He took out the coffee bag and placed it in the trash and then rinsed the dispenser until the water was clean. Then, he placed it carefully, upside-down, in the sink so it could drain.
Walking with a semi-shuffle because of his bad knees, and slightly bent over, he next collected the trash from the other baskets in the room and consolidated them into the bathroom basket. Finally, he placed all the dirty towels on the bathroom sink.
When I looked at the bed, I saw Coach had stripped it, leaving a neat pile of sheets and pillow cases. Then he looked at me, smiled, and said, “OK, Swen. I think we’re ready to go now.” Then, he walked back into the room, turned off the light next to the bed, walked out into the hall, and closed the door behind him.
When I was at UCLA, after we played a road game, Coach made sure we left the locker room as clean, or cleaner, than we found it. All towels were placed on a table in one pile and all trash was picked up and put in its proper place. I clearly remember three occasions when, before a home practice, Coach would read us a letter he had received from the custodian of a university we had competed with, expressing amazement and gratitude for our consideration.
Is it a coincidence, the most successful men’s basketball college coach of all time has deep consideration for others and believes he is no better than anyone else, or is there a direct relationship between consideration and success? Just asking.
By the way, to this day, when I lodge somewhere overnight, I leave my room in the same condition Coach did, just in case he’s got a spy reporting to him from Motel 6. I wouldn’t put it past him."
Thanks, Swen! If more people could model themselves after Coach, the world would be such a beautiful place.