Sunday, March 30, 2014

March Madness 2: Giants

by Bill Doughty

It was 1968. I was on a Brookhurst Junior High School eighth grade field trip to the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles when Lew Alcindor walked by.
My buddies and I had been looking down, amazed by the huge roots of trees that broke apart the sidewalk, when a human tree walked past. Lew Alcindor, 7 feet and 2 inches tall, one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

Lew Alcindor. My buddies and I stopped and stared, open-mouthed, wide-eyed. The future Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a serious look on his face and a huge stack of books under his arm.


It was an indelible image that had a huge impact on my life.

Abdul-Jabbar was an avid reader and writer even before he began playing college basketball. Now he's a successful author.

Among his books: "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes" with Anthony Walton (2004); "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance" with Raymond Obstfeld (2007); and "What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African American Inventors" with Raymond Obstfeld (2012). I look forward to featuring some of Abdul-Jabbar's work in future posts.

In "Giant Steps," Abdul-Jabbar writes about his first impression of his coach at UCLA, the great John Wooden, who out of respect called him "Lewis."

"I found myself liking Mr. Wooden right away. People would always tell me they cared about me, but I felt Mr. Wooden really meant it. I came of his office knowing I was going to UCLA."

Perhaps it was their mutual interest in books. Each man's fathers, "Hugh" Wooden and "Big Al" Alcindor, had instilled in their sons a lifelong passion for reading. 

In "My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey" by John Wooden with Steve Jamison, the coach reflects in a chapter, "The Age of Alcindor," about self-control and poise being fundamental to achieving success.  "Lewis had the bearing of an eagle. He also reminded  me so much of my own father, Joshua Hugh Wooden."

"Wooden: A Coach's Life" by Seth Davis, opens with:
"The first thing you noticed were the books. Big books, little books, picture books, children's books, art books, religious books, coaching books, sports books, fiction books, science books. Before I walked through the door, they were there to greet me in tall, neat piles in the front hallway. The books were stacked on floors, lined up on tables, piled on desks, jammed into bookcases. The apartment was barely two thousand square feet, yet it seemed that most of it was covered by something that could be read."
Wooden was an English teacher before he was a coach. But he was also a lieutenant in the United States Navy providing physical readiness training for naval aviators during World War II. Davis writes:
"After World War II broke out, Wooden could have avoided being drafted because he was a married father and high school teacher, but eventually duty compelled him to enlist in the navy, a little more than a year after the bombing of Pearl Harbor."
One of Wooden's assignments was on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He also served at other college campuses, at an Iowa preflight school and as an underway watch officer aboard USS Sable (IX-81), an aircraft carrier training ship anchored in Lake Michigan.

Like fellow Sailor Red Auerbach, he never served overseas.  In Wooden's case, a bout of appendicitis prevented him from deploying to the carrier USS Franklin (CV-13) in the South Pacific, including off the coast of Samar, Philippines.
"As it turned out, Wooden knew well the man who replaced him aboard the Franklin. He was Freddy Stalcup, a former Purdue football player who was Wooden's fraternity brother in Beta Theta Pi. Several months later, Wooden received a piece of news that left him dumbstruck: Stalcup was working a gun position aboard the Franklin when the ship was struck by a Japanese kamikaze pilot. He was killed along with dozens of other men on board. Had Wooden's appendix not become inflamed, he could very well have lost his life that day."
Davis presents a lifetime of detail in nearly 600 pages of Wooden's biography, including details about the Coach's commitment to conditioning and the fast break, Wooden's complicated relationship with Bill Walton, his love of poetry (even on his deathbed), discussions of religion and racism, and the Coach's insights on leadership, including the development of his core values and Pyramid of Success, which reaches a pinnacle in "Competitive Greatness" -- requiring toughness, your best performance, and "real love of a hard battle."

When Wooden passed away in 2010, UCLA issued a statement that included a quote from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the former Lew Alcindor, who I saw carrying that armful of books back in 1968:

"It's kind of hard to talk about Coach Wooden simply, because he was a complex man. But he taught in a very simple way. He just used sports as a means to teach us how to apply ourselves to any situation.  He set quite an example. He was more like a parent than a coach. He really was a very selfless and giving human being, but he was a disciplinarian. We learned all about those aspects of life that most kids want to skip over. He wouldn't let us do that."

Wooden, known for his pithy words of wisdom, famously said, "What you are as a person is far more important that what you are as a basketball player."  He also advised, "Drink deeply from good books."

The dust jacket of "Wooden: A Coach's Life," calls the book, "A provocative and revelatory new biography of the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, by one of America's top college basketball writers."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March Madness -- Coach Reads

by Bill Doughty

"Did I ever tell you about..."
That's how Red Auerbach's "Let Me Tell You a Story" opens, with one chapter devoted to his years in the Navy during World War II. Auerbach, son of a Russian emigrant, joined in 1943.  
Lt. j.g. Arnold "Red" Auerbach in WWII.
He did physical training at Great Lakes and served in Norfolk alongside fellow Sailors Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra before being assigned as a rehabilitation officer at Bethesda Naval Hospital where, in addition to his other duties, he played and coached basketball.

Auerbach was never assigned overseas. For a while he coached basketball for NFL football players.  "In those days, professional athletes needed to supplement their income during the off-season. The (Washington) Redskins, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants had formed basketball teams, and they traveled around the East Coast playing one another."

John Feinstein, co-author with Auerbach, writes in "Let Me Tell You a Story," "The greatest coach in basketball history began his professional career coaching football players at basketball."
Bill Russell and Coach Auerbach in 1964.

After the war his coaching career jumped from coaching high school and off-season NFL players to calling plays for the Washington Capitols and then leading the dynasty of the Boston Celtics.

How did he achieve greatness as a coach? Auerbach writes:
"Coaching is simple: you need good players who are good people. You have that, you win. You don't have that, you can be the greatest coach who ever lived and you aren't going to win."
Other great coaches discussed in "Story" include: Rick Pitino, Mike Krzyzewski, John Thompson, Phil Jackson, Bobby Knight and Dean Smith.

Dean Smith played for the University of Kansas on the 1952 national championship team. He became an assistant coach for the Air Force Academy under Coach Bob Spear, a former Naval Academy Coach. Smith's big break came when he joined the coaching staff at the University of North Carolina, where he would coach Michael Jordan among other basketball greats.

In "A Coach's Life" Coach Smith outlines his core values for success:
"Our philosphy at North Carolina was clear from day one. Each year we had the same goals: (1) Play together; (2) play hard; (3) Play smart. Together meant unselfishly, hard meant with effort, and smart meant with proper execution."
He was inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who when someone asked him how to learn how to write, said, "by writing every day."
Michael Jordan and Coach Smith, 1980.

Smith said he built the success of his program on training and practice and compassion, and he shares leadership advice:
"A demanding teacher is quick to praise action that deserves praise, but will criticize the act, not the person. The coach's job is to be part servant in helping the player reach his goals ... To me the players get the wins, and I got the losses. Caring for one another and building relationships should be the most important goal, no matter what vocation you are in."
"A Coach's Life" by Dean Smith with John Kilgo and Sally Jenkins is rich with wisdom and insight about life and basketball. Smith discusses the impact of World War II and the turmoil of the 1960s.

Books that tie coaching and leadership are almost their own genre. These are just a couple of examples for another March Madness weekend -- one in which Stanford just upset #2 Kansas.

Another coaching leadership book worth picking up is Jerry Lynch's "Creative Coaching: New Ways to Maximize Athlete and Team Potential in All Sports."
A master of the Final Four -- Coach Dean Smith.

Unlike the biographies of Auerbach and Smith in this blogpost, "Creative Coaching" is promoted as "a strategic handbook" to maximize performance.

This book offers core values and principles from coaches like Chris Weller, head coach of women's basketball at the University of Maryland ("courageous, fearless"), Phil Jackson ("maintain humility") and John Thompson of Georgetown ("compassionate"). The book explores how to develop trust, discipline, team intelligence, loyalty and commitment.

"Creative Coaching" is dedicated by the author: "To Dean Smith, the quintessential Creative coach with a teacher's heart."

Saturday, March 8, 2014

In Shadow of ... America's Longest Wars

Review by Bill Doughty

Women and men of the Class of 2002 may think they are in the shadow of their grandparents -- "The Greatest Generation" who beat fascism, crushed nazism and crossed the Pacific to avenge Pearl Harbor and win the war in the Pacific in less than four years.

"In the Shadow of Greatness: Voices of Leadership, Sacrifice, and Service from America's Longest War" is a compilation by or about members of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2002. Put together with love and appreciation by Joshua Welle, John Ennis, Katherine Kranz and Graham Plaster -- and including a foreword by David Gergen -- the book is filled with essays and memories by and about members of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2002. The authors set the stage with a look back to the past:
"The magnitude of World War II provided the opportunity and experiences that shaped twentieth-century American leaders. As men served abroad, women provided support at home. All overcame great odds and faced adversity that gave them confidence and shaped their outlook in the decades to come. This 'greatest generation' returned from war, took advantage of the educational benefits offered through the GI Bill, and advanced the country's economy and transformed its society. World War II veterans, while fueling economic advancement, remained resolute in their  value system: service, sacrifice, and community."
Among "Shadow's" contributors are aviators, surface warfare officers, submariners, U.S. Marines and mothers of junior officers killed during training or in action.

The book is filled with first-person, heartfelt accounts of triumph and hardships: what it's like in humanitarian assistance missions, duty at sea, Search and Rescue operations, and combat; what it means to face family separation, "setting aside the comforts a normal life in service to our country and the Constitution. The dark sides of these sacrifices are broken marriages, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and estrangement."

But there is plenty of triumph here, too, focusing on why and how Navy and Marine Corps leaders choose to serve -- "not for self, but for country."

USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53)
A highlight is the account by Meghan Elger Courtney, who served aboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) of her commitment to promote warfighting readiness for Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer. Courtney recognized a need to improve shipboard physical fitness opportunities to help Sailors who would deploy forward -- either aboard ship or as individual augmentees in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With the blessing of her commanding officer and strong support from the command master chief and Chief's Mess, j.o. Courtney planned for, procured and arranged for installation of a new fitness center that replaced outdated insufficient gear and space.  Courtney writes, "Almost immediately, I saw a positive renewal in people's attitude toward fitness, healthy eating, and incorporating workouts into their daily routine as a way to relieve stress and stay in shape."
"What some may have viewed as my silly pet project, the command master chief took seriously, and he became my closest ally in seeing it through. I never really knew how much the experience had impacted him until I saw him become visibly choked up recollecting it during his closing remarks when he transferred off the ship. I don't think he thought that a young officer like me could have cared about his crew so much, but I did, and I still do..."
Explorer Robert E. Perry
Courtney said she was inspired by a quote by explorer Robert E. Peary on a motivational placard in Halsey Field House at the academy: "I will find a way, or make one."

Other essayists share their sources of inspiration as President Teddy Roosevelt, President Dwight Eisenhower, President John F. Kennedy, Senator Daniel Inouye and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, among others. 

One essayist quotes the last two lines of a poem by Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day" in pursuing a life of purpose, wanting to make a difference:

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

The authors and essayists show how core values of honor, courage and commitment make up an ethos that "forms the fabric of people's personality and drives them to a life of service, in and out of uniform."
"'In the Shadow of Greatness' was envisioned to recognize and chronicle the service of brave men and women and through their stories establish connections with the broader, nonmilitary community. These first graduates of the Naval Academy after 9/11 entered a global war at sea, in the air, and on land. This war would last more than a decade and define the United States in the early part of the millennium. The actions of the select few profiled here represent those of a much broader spectrum of patriots."
Attacks on 9/11/2001 changed the lives of the Class of 2002.
In a short introductory piece, "Inside the Gates of Annapolis," Adm. Sam Locklear (now Commander, U.S. Pacific Command) writes about the investment the country makes in the women and men who attend service academies, including the Naval Academy, reflecting on the morning of September 11, 2001 when he sat at his desk as commandant of midshipmen.
"I recall vividly watching the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the plane crash in Pennsylvania. When the images reached the Brigade, and the uncertainty of the events rapidly became reality, I asked myself, Are these men and women, these young patriots, ready for the challenges that most certainly lay ahead. A decade of war has proven that they were more than ready. Fortunately for us all, they remain ready today. We are extremely proud of all they have accomplished and thankful that we chose the right men and women to lead the next great generation."
The book, published by the Naval Institute Press, is a key title on the CNO's Professional Reading Program essential list.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Women Who Don't Wait / dot Complicated

Review by Bill Doughty

It's complicated (but doesn't have to be) according to authors Randi Zuckerberg and Reshma Saujani in their books from 2013.  Be authentic to "untangle our wired lives" and "break the mold, lead the way."

Zuckerberg's "dot Complicated" is filled with ideas for achieving tech-life balance in the brave new world of super-smart phones, instant communication, hyper connectivity and changing definitions of privacy.

Like a lot of business books, "dot Complicated" has personal anecdotes and easy-to-find highlighted lists. You'll see tips for achieving tech-life balance with self, friends, love, family, career, community and future.

"Strive to find personal peace, friendship, love, fulfillment at work, and good in your community, and use the Internet to improve your life, not control it," she advises. And, "don't be a jerk."

Think of that when you're having a face-to-face conversation with someone and they turn to check their tweets; or you look in the rearview mirror while stopped in traffic and notice the driver behind you is obviously texting; or you read hate-filled troll droppings in anonymous online comments. Again, "don't be a jerk."

Among Zuckerberg's simple and common sense advice: know how to break digital addiction, learn how to achieve balance, and think about how/what/when/where/why to post or repost information. She applies the Golden Rule of life to social media: "Repost unto others as you would have them repost..."

This book is easy and fun to read. As the sister of Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, the author has the bonafides to describe social media and the do's and don'ts of navigating the new millennial landscape where "technology seems to make things both easier and harder at the same time."

Reshma Saujani mentions Randi Zuckerberg in her groundbreaking work, "Women Who Don't Wait" published last year, praising Zuckerberg's work-life balance and willingness to be herself.

"Randi is right. The more open women are about the richness and multidimensional aspects of their lives, the more acceptable it will become to simply act like ourselves -- and the more effective we will be as leaders."

Saujani's book is filled with provocative chapter/subchapter titles: Fail Fast, Fail First, Fail Hard; Unapologetically Ambitious; Don't Worry If They Don't Like You; Jump the Line (Wear What You Want); and Building a Sisterhood for the Twenty-First Century.

Her biggest advice, like Zuckerberg's, is: "be authentic." She discusses her transformation and encourages the reader to "free yourself from believing that you have to behave like anyone other than yourself."
YN1c Marjorie Daw Adams (right) with Mailman 2nd Class Harrison, 1945.

While her insights are relevant for everyone, her target audience is, of course, women.  She calls for a strong community of support, or sisterhood, but writes, "And guys? We aren't hating on them; we are looking to men to be our allies. We no longer see them as a barrier to our success."
"I have worked with and been inspired by others, every day, to help create the world I want the next generation to live in. As women we must have the humility to see the world as it is, but the audacity to envision it as it could be. To apply a new lens of female leadership and reinvent, reshape, and retool the traditional system. To realize that we can learn from the poorest of women and the richest of women. We can and should be talking to one another about what this new model should look like -- and about how we can build it together."
Saujani dedicates her book "For all the women in my life whose shoulders I stand on, and for all the women who will stand on mine."

Since the 1980s March has been National Women's History Month, a time to recognize the women who didn't wait and who shouldered the struggle for freedom and equality, including the right to vote.
Future President Jimmy Carter readies to graduate from Naval Academy, 1947.

The first National Women's History Week was proclaimed by President and Commander in Chief Jimmy Carter, a former naval officer.

Here is Carter's Message to the nation designating March 2-8, 1980 (sixty years after women won the ability to vote) as National Women’s History Week:
   "From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.
   As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, 'Women’s History is Women’s Right.' – It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.
   I ask my fellow Americans to recognize this heritage with appropriate activities during National Women’s History Week, March 2-8, 1980.
   I urge libraries, schools, and community organizations to focus their observances on the leaders who struggled for equality -- Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul.
   Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people.
   This goal can be achieved by ratifying the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that 'Equality of Rights under the Law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.'"
Congress passed a joint resolution proclaiming a Women's History Week in 1981.

The National Women's History Project and Department of Defense theme for this year's commemoration is, "celebrating women of character, courage and commitment," clearly mirroring Navy core values.

The books by Zuckerberg and Saujani in this review build on the gains of women in the past with a focus on the future, whether achieving tech-life balance or workplace gender balance -- with equal pay for equal work. It's not complicated.