MBA Preparation, Services

The wisdom of a “Wizard” transcends sports to speak to MBA hopefuls

June 14 2010 By The MBA Exchange
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An amazing man passed away recently at the age of 99, but his legacy lives on. John Wooden was the iconic basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins for 27 seasons, earning him the nickname, “Wizard of Westwood.” His record of 10 national championships in 12 years raised the bar for coaches of any sport, worldwide.

Even if you’re not a history buff or basketball fan, the late Coach Wooden provided a gift of wisdom for all. In this case, his famed “Pyramid of Success” provides a scorecard for business professionals to use in measuring their capabilities and potential. We encourage future MBA applicants to use these metrics is determining how competitive they can be in the pursuit of admission.

How do you stack up against Coach Wooden’s list of 15 essential attributes for winners:

  1. Competitive Greatness: Do you approach every task with the will and determination to be the very best? Do your performance reviews confirm that you’re a winner?
  2. Poise: Are you cool under pressure, observing but never thrown off course by distractions and forces around you? Do you get flustered when faced with an angry customer or critical supervisor?
  3. Confidence: Do you believe in yourself — your values, your vision, your objective — so much that others instantly believe in you as well? On team projects, do others automatically defer to you as leader?
  4. Condition: Can you match your determination with the physical and emotional stamina necessary to overcome all hurdles and prevail? Is your work/life balance source of strength? Are you a role model for endurance when an all-nighter is necessary?
  5. Skill: Have you built the core knowledge and leveraged your talents to bring efficiency and effectiveness to essential tasks, and to accurately evaluate others who claim to be experts? Are you “great” at at least one thing and “good” at several others?
  6. Team Spirit: Do you make work fun for those around you? Is your first instinct to congratulate your teammates for a shared victory and to focus on learning from defeat? In describing your latest project, do you say “we/our/us” more than “I/me/my”?
  7. Self Control: Can you harness your emotions consistently when the world around is in disarray? Do you avoid being a know-it-all even when you know it all? What last caused you to lose your temper with a peer or subordinate?
  8. Alertness: Are you always listening, observing, assessing the world around you to anticipate opportunities and avoid pitfalls? Do you capture and apply the lessons you learn before speaking in meetings?
  9. Initiative: How’s your appetite for quickly assessing risks in the pursuit of rewards? Can you put the pieces together in real time rather than falling into indecision? When was the last time you solved a lingering problem or introduced a profitable idea?
  10. Intentness: Do you bounce back from a loss, smarter and even more determined to achieve the goal? Is a second, third or even tenth try even possible when the objective is meaningful? When and why did you last “give up” on a mission?
  11. Industriousness: Are you able to fight the good fight even when lacking the basic resources to do so? Do you consider your work ethic to be infinite? Are you the first one to arrive and the last to leave most days?
  12. Friendship: Can you build bonds with those around you that improve your collective performance and enrich individual lives at the same time? How many of your five best buddies are current or former co-workers or clients?
  13. Loyalty: Do colleagues know that you count on them and that they can count on you, in good times and bad, to deliver what’s promised and go beyond what’s expected? If you asked others if you had ever disappointed them, what would they say?
  14. Cooperation: Are you satisfied once you’ve “done your job” or do you instantly look to the left and right to determine what you can offer to help the team succeed? Do you tend to wait for others to ask for assistance? Can you accept it graciously when you need it?
  15. Enthusiasm: Is there typically a sincere smile on your face, an edge to your voice, a sparkle in your eye even when faced with adversity? Do you find joy in the journey as well as arriving at the destination?

So, future MBA applicants, how do you stack up against Coach Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”? If you have fewer than half of these 15 attributes, it’s probably time to re-think whether now is the right time to pursue business school admission. And if you think you have all of them, then you’d probably be wise to get a second opinion to ensure that it’s not just arrogance. Regardless of your score, if getting into a top business school is your intention, The MBA Exchange can help.

Get to know us by requesting an objective, professional evaluation of your candidacy. The MBA Exchange is ready and eager to help you achieve your objectives.