It's what you learn after you know it all that counts

John Wooden quoteLast week my husband and I visited the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. What I anticipated to be several hours of general boredom on my part turned into a three-hour reflection on great negotiation and conflict resolution.

It all started with this quote from legendary hoops coach John Wooden, posted high on an archway: It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. That’s when I realized I wasn’t just visiting a mecca for fans, I was visiting a tribute to some of the best coaching in the world.

I’ve talked here before about the mistake of certainty, the danger of reflexive loops in relationships, the importance of suspending your disbelief during conflict conversations, and the secret good mediators know about staying curious.

But it only took Wooden 11 words to remind us that great negotiators learn how to move past their own certainty, their own ego’s closing of the mind. Great negotiators know that it’s the territory beyond certainty that holds the greatest promise for optimal results that also preserve the personal or professional relationship.

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  1. says

    Agree… those are wise words, Tammy. Makes me think that good coaches might make more for good mediators, too. Good coaches seem to have strong people skills, know how to get people to work together, can help individuals see the details & big picture, etc. I gotta admit though, I’d probably have gotten absorbed in the basketball stuff at the HOF, being a hoops fan, and missed your keen observations!

    • Tammy Lenski says

      Hi, Ben! So true…I suspect a lot of the really great coaches (except perhaps for Bobby Knight…) had some very good conflict resolution skills.

      (Have you ever been to the Basketball Hall of Fame? Even I got drawn into the amazing stories of the players and coaches on the third floor rotunda…we spent two hours just in that one area.)

  2. says

    I was listening to a song by Montgomery Gentry where he says, “Lord, I’m learning so much more than back when I knew it all.” Seems to be a theme that keeps coming up lately that is such a powerful reminder in all aspects of life. Thanks for sharing Tammy!

    • Tammy Lenski says

      Great quote, Jason. One of the things I like most about the work you and I do is that it spans all parts of our lives. And keeps us humble ;)