Lessons from Legends: Sue Enquist on John Wooden

Last month I had the opportunity to visit with legendary softball coach Sue Enquist at her home in San Clemente, CA. Though the purpose of my visit was to work on a collaborative project, our conversation took many turns as we chatted about coaching, surfing, and the life lessons that naturally come from a career in sport.

Years ago I had the opportunity to meet Coach John Wooden, someone who Sue was fortunate to call a mentor and a friend during their time at UCLA and in the years until his death. Affectionately referred to as “Papa”, Sue shared with me one of the most important lessons she learned from one of the greatest coaches of all time.

When legends speak of legends, you listen. And when legends give you permission to share, you do. Here’s Sue on the Pyramid of Success and what Coach Wooden taught her about judgment, your job as a coach, and the major turning point in her career. May it be of benefit :)

p.s. She was right, the story was worth Googling. Sue later said the lesson she learned was "how I behave is valued MORE to UCLA than the opportunity to win a game or a championship". Who we are off the field matters more than what we do on it. Sue said, "Papa always told me 'you must love them [your players] unconditionally on their good and bad days' - my family and inner circle helped hold me accountable and get me through tough times like that day".