When I think about people who exemplify the words success and excellence, John Wooden is certainly at or near the top of that list. After a long life of coaching and modeling greatness, John Wooden passed away last Friday at the age of 99.
As a legendary basketball coach, John Wooden is the most successful coach in history. His accomplishments at UCLA include winning ten NCAA national championships, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973, and four perfect 30-0 seasons.
During his tenure at UCLA, “The Wizard of Westwood” would coach such greats as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and Henry Bibby.
But what few people realize is that Wooden was a model of success not only in basketball, but also in life. Wooden’s non-basketball honors include being named California “Sports Father of the Year” and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Several traits contributed to his success both on and off the court, and Wooden’s success philosophy is documented in his famous “Pyramid of Success.” But the one that stands out more than any other is the advice given to him by his father when Wooden graduated from grammar school:
Make each day your masterpiece.
Wooden wanted to end each day thinking that he had done his best. And he instilled this philosophy in his players. As I reflect back on his life, and the difference he made for many, many people, it is clear that Coach Wooden’s life was a masterpiece. He is a wonderful model for living an excellent life.
Here are a few of the many nuggets of wisdom from Coach Wooden:
If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
If you get yourself too engrossed in things over which you have no control, it will adversely affect things over which you do have control.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Failure is not fatal. Failure to change might be.
Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.
Never mistake activity for achievement.
Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.
Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.