Basketball and Life

"Be Quick — But Don’t Hurry: Finding Success in the Teachings

of a Lifetime" by Andrew Hill with John Wooden

(Simon & Schuster, $20)

Andrew Hill should be considered a very lucky man. The 50-year-old Los Angeles native played basketball at UCLA in the 1970s under the auspices of John Wooden, one of the school’s greatest coaches. Hill won three championship rings with UCLA but left the university with a chip on his shoulder and a deep misunderstanding of the coach who would later become his greatest mentor.

Hill went on to become president of productions at CBS and president of programming at the student-oriented Channel One Network, never fully conscious of the role that the coach’s teachings had played in his life.

One sunny day while facing down a 210-yard, 2-iron golf course, a friend told him to keep his balance, something that Wooden had always stressed. Hill, who described his experience on the golf course as an epiphany, wanted to reconnect with the man he had so deeply misunderstood in his youth.

Hill picked up the phone and tracked down Wooden. The coach embraced his former pupil as though he had been waiting for him all along.

The reunion went so well that Hill took to calling Wooden "coach" and was inspired to share Wooden’s teachings and philosophies with others in his new book, "Be Quick — But Don’t Hurry."

"Life is precious," Hill says. If you have an opportunity to "reach out to the older people in your life, [you should]."

"Be Quick" begins with a forward by Wooden outlining his "Pyramid to Success" based on his years of coaching — loyalty and friendship are two elements that form the foundation, while faith and patience sit at the zenith due to their deep moral value.

Hill outlines 21 secrets he’s learned from experiences with Wooden and explores how each relates to basketball and life.

Secret No. 9, titled "A Great Leader Cannot Worry About Being Liked," focuses on the very crux of Hill’s early contentions with Wooden.

Hill writes candidly about how Wooden was not well liked by his players and that Wooden expected his players not to like him. The coach’s focus was on the greater picture, winning national championships. He didn’t care about the feelings of the players who sat on the bench and whined or those who didn’t like the way Wooden talked to them.

According to Hill, Wooden had realized that "feelings get hurt and lives are disrupted, but the ability to make those tough choices is essential to being an effective leader."

If he had to pick one secret from his book to emphasize, Hill says, "focusing on effort, not winning" is the most important, because "we live in a society in which we always keep score."

A basis of Wooden’s teachings, according to Hill, is that the focus on the effort required to do something "frees you from the result." But Hill continues to struggle with aspects higher on Wooden’s pyramid, like patience.

Each of the 21 secrets helps elaborate and provide examples for Wooden’s philosophy, adding imagery and establishing connections between his concepts and the two men responsible for the book.

Hill says that you must buy into Wooden’s whole idea of the pyramid in order to achieve balance in your life, adding that if "you gave your best effort, you have succeeded."