Coach John Wooden’s Seven-Point Creed for the Real Estate Professional

Coach John Wooden’s Seven-Point Creed for the Real Estate Professional

One of my favorite people in sports was John Wooden – the hall of fame college basketball coach who won ten NCAA national championships in twelve years as the head coach at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Coach Wooden is considered by many to be one of the greatest coaches in all of sports.  He died in 2010 at the ripe old age of 99.

Coach Wooden’s impact went well beyond the players and fans at UCLA.  He instilled wisdom and insight to millions of Americans who followed him during his forty years as a coach and well into his retirement. Numerous Wooden quotes are in a wide array of books, newspaper articles, and magazines. I quote him in my book “Do You Have a Minute? An Award-Winning Real Estate Managing Broker Reveals Keys for Industry Success”

I believe Coach Wooden was part of a rare breed of twentieth-century leaders who could be considered a true role model for both young and old alike.  He always spoke of the importance of one’s character and reputation as well as the importance to not procrastinate and make today the best it can be.  His Christian faith was the foundation of who he was and how he interacted with those around him.  He was extremely masterful at motivating his players to do their best on and off the court.  That is why he had ten national championships as part of his legacy. 

Many of today’s leaders in business, government, and academia look at the life of Coach Wooden as an example on how to lead and manage organizations to realize the best from those they oversee.  Many times, I refer to him when talking with agents about the importance of interpersonal relationship skills, setting goals, and motivating themselves not to give up in a very competitive and challenging real estate market.

Most of the people who knew John Wooden knew he kept a small index size card, folded in his wallet, containing seven affirmations of faith to remind him how he should live his life day in and day out.  These seven adages were given to him by his father when he graduated from the eighth grade at his small school in rural central Indiana.  They stayed in his wallet until his death.  Today, these maxims are known as “John Wooden’s Seven-Point Creed.”

Recently, I ran across these seven points of wisdom from the great coach and thought about how these could apply to those of us in the real estate profession.  The following are a few thoughts on each one

1. Be True to Yourself.  Those who enter the real estate industry out of licensing school soon find themselves surrounded by all types of personalities who are successful at helping consumers sell and purchase properties.  I quickly learned after I received my affiliate broker’s license, I needed to be “me” and not attempt to replicate other agents who were multi-million-dollar producers with lots of clients and award plaques on their office wall.  I needed to be true to myself.  If I was going to be successful, I had to be comfortable in my own skin and stay true to my values.  It worked and doing so allowed me to become the “Rookie of the Year” in my first year of real estate and see many years of success assisting my clients in selling their home or finding their next one.

2. Make each day your masterpiece.  Most people take every day for granted.  We wake up in the morning following the same routine, go to our job doing what we are paid to do, returning home, eating dinner, watching TV or some other leisure activity, and then go to bed.  Day in and day out we repeat these activities and don’t stop to realize each day is a gift from God.  As I have become older, I embrace the fact that God does own our next breath.  We are not promised the next year, month, day, hour, minute or second.  So, if this is true – and, I believe it is – we need to consider what we do NOW to be the most critical time to excel in whatever we do.  Whether it is procuring new clients through effective prospecting, helping a buyer through a home inspection, calming a seller down after someone leaves their home unlocked, or mentoring a new agent who is eager to learn – we have to do our very best at each task we face.  Everything we do in a day should be part of a masterpiece of how we live during that particular twenty-four hours.

3. Never leave until tomorrow what can be done today.  President Abraham Lincoln once said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”  Procrastination can be one of the biggest obstacles for a REALTOR® in attaining a high level of success.  I am guilty of it at times as are many folks in this business.  Whether it is accomplishing a difficult task in a transaction or conveying bad news to a client, we find ourselves waiting until tomorrow so we can relieve the stress and anxiety the issue causes for us.  I learned a long time ago that the longer you wait to do something the more likely it will become a bigger problem that becomes more difficult to address or resolve.  My advice is to get it done now!

4. Help others.  Self-centeredness is extremely caustic and a nasty trait to possess as a human being.  When we are only thinking of ourselves and not others, we are not doing what God calls us to do. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) As those who are asked to handle the most significant asset a person has, REALTORS® must always put the interest of their clients ahead of their own.  The National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice and most state real estate regulatory agencies stresses the importance of serving the client first.  If you focus on what you can get out of a transaction (i.e., the sales commission), you will never attain a level of success in this business.  Trust me, I have seen those who had short real estate careers because their own narcissistic and self-serving behavior overshadowed taking care of the needs of their clients.

5. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.  There are so many books that can add a depth of knowledge to your understanding of our profession and life in general.  You should spend an hour or two a day in a book each day.  Reading is not only interesting, but also very therapeutic.  A book can help reduce stress, stimulate brain activity, improve memory (that’s why I read) and improve writing skills.

The Bible is a guaranteed “best read.” This collection of sixty-six books is the operating manual for my life.  No other book has provided me more insight, guidance, and encouragement than God’s word. 

Go online or to your favorite “brick and mortar” bookseller to find a couple of good books on selling, customer service or personal management.  Trust me, the more knowledge you acquire will make you a much better real estate agent.

6. Study friendship and make it a fine art.  Orson Welles, the great actor, director, writer, and producer of the mid-twentieth century, said “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”  His quote is so true.  Friends can add so much to our lives and prevent loneliness from creeping in.  It is good to have friends.  If you don’t have many friends, get out there now and make some new ones!  The more friends you have, the happier you will be every day. 

7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.  I am blessed.  I am blessed beyond all measure.  I have a loving and supportive wife, three incredible adult children and their spouses/significant others, a great job and good health. Sometimes I forget about how blessed I am until something happens that “rocks my world.”

I experienced numerous “ups and downs” in my life, especially over the past twenty years. From kids who have battled their own challenges to deaths of parents and other family members, I found that life is not always a bed of roses. But even during the low points and difficult times, God provides me with many blessings. Most of the time I did not realize it until sometime later.  And, I know I will continue to navigate through smooth and rough waters in this life before it is over.  However, I don’t rely on my knowledge and experience to overcome obstacles that come before me.  I always ask God to provide me with the guidance and direction I need to conquer each day. Sometimes, He gives me a clear path, other times it is not so clear. If it weren’t for prayer and my personal relationship with my creator, I would be nothing but a puddle of muck. 

These seven principles were handed down to a teenage son from a father who wanted him to live a full and meaningful life.  And, John Wooden did just that.  He lived a long life and, from all accounts, a life that was both full and meaningful.  However, Wooden was a very humble man who, towards the end of his long life, believed he had come up short in trying to live out these truths his father had given him.  I believe he did. From his early days in Indiana to the success he realized at UCLA, Coach Wooden knew how to live a life that was full of humility, selflessness, discipline, honesty, patience, kindness and a grateful heart.  What a life!

As real estate professionals, we need to incorporate the “John Wooden Seven-Point Creed” in our real estate practice and always keep them in front of us as a reminder of how to take care of those who need our experience and expertise.  On the days that you feel you do not have a sense of purpose, pull these out of your wallet and review each one. You will discover they are a great reminder of how you should live your life each day.


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