On the right side of the Pyramid of Success, below patience, there are four additional pieces of mortar: sincerity, honesty, reliability and integrity. These are qualities that, together, encompass the genuineness, strength and impact of human character.
Related: 6 Essential Traits of Good Character
In his book Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, with Jay Carty, Coach Wooden defined sincerity and its importance in the following manner:
“Friendship, loyalty, cooperation and team spirit each occupy building blocks in the Pyramid of Success. What do these blocks say about success? They tell us that we cannot become successful unless we interact with others. Sincerity is the mortar that binds together the blocks of friendship, loyalty, cooperation and team spirit. Therefore, sincerity is also necessary to reach the apex.
“Sincerity may not make a friend, but it will keep one. It often takes a while to be validated, but once a person knows that our word, character and steadfastness have withstood the test of life, a firm friendship can be established and maintained.
“When we realize that a friend can be counted on during times of need, when we see that his or her values don’t blow around in the breeze, and when he or she stands up for us, we are far more apt to stand up for him or her—and vice versa.”
Under each piece of mortar on the Pyramid, in parentheses, there is some brief application advice for that mortar. In the original version of the Pyramid, Coach had suggested that sincerity was a trait that “makes friends.” After revising the Pyramid years later, Coach changed the application advice for sincerity to instead read, “keeps friends.” Coach had an important motivation for this change. He wanted to make certain that we understand that sincerity will help us do something more important than simply winning over new friends—that it will, in fact, allow us to earn their trust and loyalty in such a way that we are able to maintain and grow those friendships into lasting and mutually edifying relationships.
Coach’s aim in promoting sincerity was to challenge us to speak and act in truth about our beliefs, goals, loyalty and team spirit. Whether it is a military leader or an office manager or a basketball coach, people who are following a sincere and honest leader will do more for him or her than they will for an insincere one—especially when the pressure is on.
The Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word “sincerity” stems from the Latin word “sincerus,” which means “clean, pure, sound.”
The Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word “sincerity” stems from the Latin word “sincerus,” which means “clean, pure, sound.” The root word itself, “sincerus,” might have actually originally been a compound of “sin” (one) and “crescere” (to grow)—referring to something that grows and develops untainted by anything else. That’s a wonderful picture of what sincerity really is: a striving to grow toward a goal unsullied or uncorrupted by anything less than pure motives. That’s the kind of growth that inspires confidence and a willingness to follow.
But beyond that, the definition also reminds us that when we are sincere with each other, we can grow together as one toward our shared purpose.
Related: The Value of Friendship