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Beyond the Court: Coach Wooden's Guide to Leadership and Gratitude

A quote by legendary coach, John Wooden that reads, "Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference

In the dynamic arena of sports, the philosophy of legendary Coach John Wooden resonates far beyond the playing field. Acknowledging effort, providing constructive feedback, and celebrating small victories are not just game strategies; they are the building blocks of a winning team. Wooden understood that victories were not solely achieved on the basketball court but were shaped in the locker room, during practice, and in the genuine connections among teammates and coaches.

Drawing parallels from the sports world to the corporate landscape, Karl Sun emphasizes the fundamental need for gratitude in a Forbes article. He states, "Gratitude is a basic human requirement, and since we spend most of our waking hours at the office, giving and receiving thanks at work becomes pretty important."

During my time working in film production, I witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of gratitude on team dynamics. Where producers often saved expressions of thanks until the end of a shoot, I took a different approach when I assumed the roles of production coordinator and producer.

At the start of each production, I made it a priority to extend my gratitude to the cast and crew, recognizing the crucial roles they played. This intentional act wasn't mere politeness; it was about setting the right tone from the very start.

Expressing gratitude upfront created a positive working atmosphere, fostering appreciation between crew members, talent, and myself. Not only were team members more willing to invest extra effort, but they also reciprocated the appreciation throughout the entire production process.

When I found myself in need of a favor from the cast or crew, their willingness to assist went beyond expectations. While this was not the primary motivation behind expressing gratitude at the beginning of every shoot, it highlighted the profound impact of fostering genuine connections within a team.

This experience solidified my belief in the simplicity and impact of gratitude... a practice I continue to embrace in the business world today. By acknowledging and valuing everyone's contribution, a collaborative environment is cultivated, where hard work, dedication, and mutual appreciation become the norm. It's a small yet impactful practice that demands nothing more than genuine appreciation, but significantly enhances the success and morale of any business team.

As business leaders, let's draw inspiration from the sports world, recognizing that the significance of small gestures contributes profoundly to the success of our teams.


  1. Express Gratitude Today: Take a moment to send a personalized message of gratitude to a team member. Acknowledge their efforts and specific contributions. Whether through a quick email, a handwritten note, or a verbal thank-you, express appreciation sincerely.

  2. Hold a Quick Team Huddle: Initiate an impromptu team huddle or virtual meeting. Use this time to recognize individual achievements, no matter how small, and highlight the collective progress of the team. This immediate acknowledgment boosts morale and reinforces a positive team culture.

  3. Seek Feedback and Act On It: Open a channel for feedback from your team. Create a simple survey or encourage direct communication. Act on the insights received promptly, demonstrating that their opinions are valued and that the team's collective voice matters in decision-making.

  4. Implement a Recognition Program: Introduce a recognition program where outstanding contributions are formally acknowledged. It could be a weekly shout-out in team meetings, a virtual "Wall of Fame," or small tokens of appreciation. Immediate implementation reinforces the importance of recognition.

  5. Schedule One-on-One Check-ins: Block out time in your schedule for one-on-one check-ins with team members. Use this time not only to discuss work-related matters but also to understand their professional goals, challenges, and well-being. These individual connections foster a sense of value and care within the team.

Remember, the key is not just in the action itself, but in the consistency and sincerity behind these gestures. Immediate implementation sends a powerful message about the importance of these initiatives in the team's dynamics.

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