As a good Bruin, I have the immortal Coach John Wooden’s pyramid posted next to my desk. I use it in evaluations, I use it to write reference letters; I use it for personal motivation in my own climb towards competitive greatness. Where am I today? In this task? Which rectangle do I want to work on today?
Today I looked at the pyramid, and marveled at its projection of the personal and unfettered nature of one’s upward trajectory. What about someone helping to open the doors for you? What about good coaching? Good mentoring? Where is resilience on this pyramid? What happens to the upward climb when forces are pushing you in the other direction? Is it even worthwhile to acknowledge, to consider the downward forces? I think it is. Success is about more than simply personal motivation, hard work, and peace of mind from doing your best. It is also about recognizing, acknowledging, and combating the anti-forces. I've documented some of them below, in my inverted pyramid.
I am only able to share this inventory of discouraging behaviors because there is—there must be—an additional pyramid to follow: A reminder of how-to-be: the behavior of healthy communities.
I have added the new pyramids to my bulletin board. Wooden’s personal success pyramid and the community pyramid are the guide posts. The inverted pyramid is the tragedy—the reminder of what can go awry. I hate being negative, I really do. So as tempting as it is to deny, it is better to see it clearly in order to recognize it, call it out when you see it, and then actively work against it.