Remembering Coach John Wooden

by Lee Buford on June 5, 2010

The story on said it all in the first paragraph:

LOS ANGELES — John Wooden, college basketball’s gentlemanly Wizard of Westwood who built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports at UCLA and became one of the most revered coaches ever, has died. He was 99.

John Wooden was many things to many people. To all, he was a great coach and an even better man. His accomplishments on the basketball court can only be over-shadowed by his legacy off the court, and both are in a league of their own.

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to read a great book:  THE ESSENTIAL WOODEN, A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership (John Wooden and Steve Jamison). In memory of Coach Wooden I wanted to share a few thoughts, quotes, and principles from the book…several of which you are probably familiar with:

Wooden emphasizes the impact his father had on him from an early age, and he shares what he commonly referred to as “Dad’s Seven-Point Creed”

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Help others.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Good Book.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter for a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance, and count and give thanks for your blessings each day.

Widely recognized for his tremendous leadership abilities, Wooden leaves a lasting treasure of quotes and principles by which success is pursued and realized. Perhaps his most publicized contribution in this area is his “Pyramid of Success”, containing seventeen essential characteristics on which success is built.

Wooden is also often quoted in many areas of leadership and life. Here are a five of my favorites:

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

“Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.”

“Never mistake activity for achievement.”

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

What are your memories of Coach Wooden? How will his lasting legacy impact others for greatness and success in the years to come?


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