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Wooden. By Coach John Wooden with Steve Jamison

Thats what I wanted: the total effort.  That was the measurement I used, never the final score.


•Why did Wooden Win?  We won national championships while I was coaching at UCLA because I was above average in analyzing players, getting them to fill roles as part of a team, paying attention to fundamentals and details, and working well with others, both those under my supervision and those whose supervision I was under.  Additionally, I enjoyed very hard work.


•Fairness is giving all people the treatment they earn and deserve.  It doesnt mean treating everyone alike.


•Focus all your effort on what is within your power to control.  Conditioning is one of those things.  How your mind functions is another.

















•If you get caught up in things over which you have no control, it will adversely affect those things over which you have control.  You have little control over what criticism or praise outsiders send your way.  Take it all with a grain of salt.


•I would spend almost as much time planning a practice as conducting it.  Everything was listed on three-by-five cards down to the very last detail.


•The four laws of learning: Explanation, Demonstration, Imitation, and Repetition.


•Talent is God-given: be humble.

Fame is man-given: be thankful.

Conceit is self-given: be careful.


•When Bill Walton wanted to play with a beard, what Wooden told him: I looked at him and said politely, Bill, I have a great respect for individuals who stand up for those things in which they believe.  I really do.  And the team is going to miss you.


•The real contest, of course is striving to reach your personal best, and that is totally under your control.  When you achieve that, you have achieved success.  Period!


•We are not the same in talents and abilities, but we are all the same in having the opportunity to make the most of what we have, whatever our situation.


•My favorite American hero is Abraham Lincoln.  He had alertness.  He once said that he never met a person from whom he did not learn something, although most of the time it was something not to do.

Why do we dread adversity when we know that facing it is the only way to become stronger, smarter, better?


•You always win when you make he full effort to do the best of which youre capable.


•Dont become too concerned about what others may think of you.  Be very concerned about what God thinks of you and what you think of yourself.  Too often, we care more about a strangers opinion of us than Gods opinion or our own opinion.


•I believe in the basics: attention to, and perfection of, tiny details that might commonly be overlooked.


•Show me what you can do, dont tell me what you can do.  Too often the big talkers are the little doers.


•Eight Suggestions for Succeeding:


1.Fear no opponent.  Respect every opponent.

2.Remember, its the perfection of the smallest details that make big things happen.

3.Keep in mind that hustle makes up for many a mistake.

4.Be more interested in character than reputation.

5.Be quick, dont hurry.

6.Understand that the harder you work, the more luck you will have.

7.Know that valid self-analysis is crucial for improvement.

8.Remember that there is no substitute for hard work and careful planning.  Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.


•The team that makes the most mistakes will probably win.  In other words, the doer makes mistakes.  The individual who is mistake-free is also probably sitting around doing nothing.


•I frequently received letters from custodians after we played an away game telling me our basketball team had left the locker room neater and cleaner than anyone who had visited during the year.


•For this same reason, I asked players even during practice to keep shirts tucked in and socks pulled up.


•Promises that can bring happiness:


1.Promise yourself to make all your friends know there is something in them that is special and that you value.

2.Promise to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

3.Promise to wear a cheerful appearance at all times and give every person you meet a smile


•Wooden never scouted other teams before playing them.  We cant control what those other fellows do to get ready.  We can only control what we do to get ready.


•Thats all I can do: to come close to my level of competency, not somebody elses.  I have nothing to do with theirs, only mine.


•Some years I understood we were building a Ford.  Other years I felt we were building a Cadillac.  The effort put forth in all years was the same: total.  And I was just as proud of our well-built Fords as of our well-built Cadillacs.


•Being too competitive: I never mentioned winning or victory to my players.  I never referred to beating an opponent.  Instead I constantly urged them to strive for the self-satisfaction that always comes from knowing you did the best you could to become the best of which you are capable.  

•Woodens favorite maxims:


Happiness begins where selfishness ends.

The smallest good deed is better than the best intention.

Big things are accomplished only through the perfection of minor details.

Discipline yourself and others wont need to.

If I am through learning, I am through.

The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.

Dont let yesterday take up too much of today.

It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.

The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.

The worst thing you can do for those you love is the things they could and should do for themselves.

Much can be accomplished by teamwork when no one is concerned about who gets credit.

You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for another without thought of something in return.

Do not mistake activity for achievement.


•Two sets of threes:  Never lie, Never cheat, Never steal.  Dont whine, Dont complain, Dont make excuses.


•Four things a man must learn to do if he would make his life more true: To think without confusion clearly; To love his fellow-man sincerely, To act from honest motives purely, To trust in God and Heaven securely.


•You have to apply yourself each day to become a little better.  By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better.


•Six of Lifes Puzzlers:  Why is it easier to criticize than to compliment?  Why is it easier to give others blame than to give them credit?  Why is it that so many who are quick to make suggestions find it so difficult to make decisions?  Why cant we realize that it only weakens those we want to help when we do things for them that they should do for themselves?  Why is it so much easier to allow emotions rather than reason to control our decisions?  Why does the person with the least to say usually take the longest to say it?


•Humility: Never believe youre better than anybody else, but remember that youre just as good as everybody else.


•Five more Life Puzzlers:  Why is it so difficult to realize that others are more likely to listen to us if first we listen to them?  Why is it so much easier to be negative than positive?  Why is it so difficult to motivate ourselves when we know that results only come through motivation?  Why is it so difficult to say thank you to someone when those are two of our own favorite words to hear?  

Observations On & Off the Court 


The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.

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