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Success In Sports and In Life


basketball1For many, success in sports and in life is "winning". It is considered to be the ultimate goal. 

In life, winning is the acquisition of power, prestige and financial wealth.

In sports, it is winning a game or a championship.

Not according to Coach John Wooden.

To Coach Wooden:

"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."


John Wooden has widely been regarded as the best college basketball coach in history.

He was the first person ever to be enshrined in The Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach and his 10 NCAA championships at UCLA have never been matched.

The keys to his success in motivating and inspiring his players (including Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Walton) are the same principles that make one's life a success.

His players have said that they don't recall Coach Wooden ever stressing the importance of winning a game.

For him, it was about sticking to the fundamentals.

woodenOn the first day of practice at the beginning of a new season he would say to his players that he wasn't going to talk to them about winning or losing because that was a by-product of preparation.

He preferred to focus on the process of having them become the best team they were capable of becoming.

Even when he taught English in high school he recalled seeing parents criticize their children for receiving less than an A or B. He wanted to communicate the message that success in life isn't just about how much stuff you have or how powerful you've become; it's about finding peace of mind in knowing you are the best that you can be.

At the heart of his coaching were the principles of excellent physical condition, skill and team spirit with preparation being the outcome.

To Coach Wooden:

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."


This also holds true for success in living a productive and meaningful life. You must prepare yourself by acquiring the necessary life skills and then work to become the best that you can be.

Coach Wooden also emphasized building character rather than reputation. He felt that you should:

  • Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow.

  • Never compare yourself to others.

  • Success is not trying to be better than someone else - which you may never be; instead it's learning from others and striving to reach your own level of competency.

  • Only you can determine whether or not you put forth your best effort.

  • Never permit yourself to become too involved with things you cannot control since it will adversely affect the things you can control.


When John Wooden graduated from grade school his father gave him a piece of paper with a creed written on it which has helped him throughout the best and most difficult times in his life. He lives by the seven points of it each and every day - personally, professionally and spiritually.

John Wooden's Seven Point Creed

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

Coach Wooden was one of the most successful and respected coaches ever because he emphasized that true success in life lies in personal responsibility, integrity and hard work.

He stressed that being prepared and being the best that you could be was the ultimate goal. It was no coincidence that winning happened to be the by-product.



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"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."

John Wooden













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