Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden began the first practice of every preseason with a lesson in how to put on socks.

He carefully demonstrated the proper technique while the new freshmen on the team were watching and likely thinking, “Why is coach doing this? I’ve been putting on socks all my life…”

Wooden went on to explain that if the players aren’t mindful in smoothing out the creases and wrinkles in the socks before they put their shoes on, they will be more prone to blisters as they begin training. And blisters will prevent them from practicing at their best.

Small things matter. Details determine outcomes. Wooden was a master of details, charting each practice session meticulously and knowing each player’s practice stats as well as their game stats. His leadership and his tightly organized system, of course, led to an unprecedented ten national championships.

One of Coach Wooden’s mantras was “Be quick, but never hurry.” Be efficient, but don’t be sloppy. If you hurry or are sloppy putting on your socks or doing other small things, you will be less likely to be awesome in the big things. 

If you’re leading others, don’t assume they’ve got the basics down. Revisit them regularly. Be relentless in emphasizing the whys, but don’t skimp on the hows. 

Strive to be impeccable in all that you do. Care enough to be awesome in the tiny, routine habits that will affect the quality of each day.

AP Photo