The 5 Ethics of Life You Need to Know About

Recent reading of The 5 Ethics of Life was The Wise You. These five principles provide a lot of wisdom to help us live an extremely successful life.

1. Before you speak, pay attention

Everyone I’ve ever met who has been successful in their career is able to hear others.

As I was leading a New York Basketball Clinic, I met John Wooden (a legendary UCLA basketball coach) for dinner. Coach Wooden’s UCLA teams won 7 NCAA National Basketball Tournaments in a row and 10 in the last 12 years he coached. I don’t think either of these feats will ever be eclipsed.

If speaking were the only way to achieve intelligence and you attended that dinner, then John Wooden would be the high-school coach and Coach Wooden would be the high-school coach. Most of the speaking was done by the high school coach and most of listening came from the coach of the high school.

Colleen is my daughter and a lawyer. She worked in hedge fund law exclusively. Her job was to often negotiate deals where large sums of money were involved. So, everyday when she opened her computer, she read this quote, “I won’t learn anything today by talking; but I will learn today by listening.”

2. Earn before you spend.

In a tight university budget, I was able to work. We were frequently told to raise the funds or earn more money when we had to increase our budgets for individual sports or all of our other activities. These were two areas I was actively involved in as a basketball coach and an athletic director/chair.

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We needed to increase our weight room in order to better support our student-athletes. We recruited many athletes from high school, where our weight room was larger and more efficient than the one at the university. We needed to raise money in order to accomplish the expansion. Through the initation of a Golf Outing, we were able to achieve our goal. This continues to support athletics.

Similar problems existed for our basketball budget. The budget we had was not sufficient to provide the services our players deserved. Again, it was necessary to raise the funds before spending them. So, we started a  clinic for Chicago area coaches. Our budget was increased by 38% through the clinic. 

While it would have been great to receive the money we needed for these necessities, our decision-making skills were much better when we earned the money.

“To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.” – Reba

3. Consider Before you Write.

From two of my best friends, I think I have learned two lessons on writing before thinking.

A very successful businessman was my first lesson. It was fine to express anger through writing. However, don’t send it that day. He advised that you read the document again after it had cooled, then tear it apart and then write it over again.

Second, I was taught the important lesson of writing: think before you start to write. This was a lesson I learned from a successful college administrator. A colleague may come up to you with an interesting idea. This is a great opportunity for leaders. It is possible for that conversation to take up two hours if you start talking about it right away.

Instead of having to talk about it with the person bringing it up, ask them to get it into writing and bring it back. You will then have a discussion. This will encourage them to think before writing. They will have a more precise and organized idea when they discuss it.

Another thought: People interrupting you with their thoughts. Notre Dame Professor said that he used to complain for 25 years about not being able to get any work done because of interruptions. He realized in his 26th birthday that the interruptions were actually his work.

People bring interruptions to leaders, and they must hear them. Both you and them will benefit when they tell you to think first, and write second.

4. Give it a try before you give up.

Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times in his attempts to create electricity before the invention. He must have had a strong FQ – Failure Quotient. Although he could fail many times, he was resilient and kept going.

Abraham Lincoln is widely considered to be the greatest American president, even though he lost most of his elections before becoming president. Edison had an excellent FQ.

The film RUDY may have been the most successful example I’ve ever seen of trying and a strong FQ. Rudy Ruettiger is someone I am familiar with and this movie portrays all the obstacles he faced to be admitted at Notre Dame as well as his journey to becoming a football player. He was certain that he believed in both of these goals.

You can quit easily, but it’s hard to keep trying.

The title of the Reverend Robert Schuller’s outstanding book represents the most important concept in trying – Tough Times Don’t Last but Tough People Do. 

5. Live Before You Die.

I had the opportunity to participate in clinics and camps for basketball players from several European countries. This gave me the opportunity to make a difference in my life before my death.

It was a wonderful learning opportunity. The best thing about these trips was their educational value. Basketball allowed me to see places that I would never have been able to in my life.

My coaches brought me to Ardennes by coach in Belgium, where the Battle of the Bulge was fought. The Germans retreated during the remainder of World War II after they won the battle. It was amazing to see the pillars listing all of the American states in which the soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.

While I was able to see the Ring of Kerry in Ireland and the amazing Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, it is the warmth of Ireland and their incredible hospitality that I will always remember.

I was taken to Austria by coaches who took me to a concentration camp. Even though I had been reading a lot about holocaust and was very familiar with the situation, what I actually saw shocked me. It was the most terrifying feeling I had ever felt in my whole life. It’s unbelievable that Nazis were able to even imagine, let alone execute, atrocities committed in this camp, and other camps across Europe. 

My first visit to Greece was at the Acropolis. Athens has no high buildings because the Acropolis is an important landmark. The climb up to the summit was quite strenuous. I asked my coaches how the builders carried all that marble when building in the time before Christ’s death. Their answer was – SLOWLY!

Our team tried to ensure that the players were alive when they traveled throughout the United States. Cooperstown was one of the stops. Other options included Fenway Park, Boston, the Grand Ole Opry and Nashville. Juarez was able to travel to Mexico to play in El Paso. They also had the chance to ski in Colorado. These trips went beyond basketball.

Last Thoughts

These 5 ethics and principles will help you live a happy, fulfilling life.

  • Listen. Be ready to listen before you speak.
  • Earn. Prior to you spending
  • Think. Before you write.
  • Try. Be patient before you quit.
  • Live. Before You Die.

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