If I were putting together my “Seek To Be Wise” leadership council, my number one pick would be John Wooden. His accolades as a coach are too many to name. This small sample will give you a taste of his coaching greatness. Ten NCAA National Championships in men’s basketball in 12 years, including 88 straight games and four perfect seasons. He was named Coach of The Century by ESPN. Enough said about his greatness as a coach.
I am amazed by his coaching accomplishments but hold him in highest regard for his wisdom. During his lifetime, he wrote several books and I would recommend you read all of them. I would highly recommend you start with his final book, “The Wisdom of Wooden.” He wrote the book in the last month of his life before his death at age 99. He epitomizes a life well-lived guided by faith, wisdom, and love; three of life’s most powerful forces. Here are a few quotes that guided him and helped him be a little wiser and live a better life.
“Pray for Guidance, count and give thanks for your blessings each day.”
“Drink deeply from good books, Including the Good Book.”
“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming.”
Quoting his father: “Son, don’t ever think you are better than somebody else, but never forget you’re just as good as anybody.”
“Love is the basis for everything I do.”
“Love is the greatest word in the English dictionary. What joy it brings. We should all say it more often to those we love.”
There is a quote that helped me in my work life. When I first read it as a young adult, it reminded me of my previous sports experiences and rang true for my early work life. John Wooden on team spirit: “Others may be faster than you are, larger than you are, and have far more ability than you have – but no one should ever be your superior in team spirit, fight, determination, ambition, and character.”
In life, there will always be someone better than you because they are more talented, have more experience, and are more knowledgeable. But regardless of your talent level, you control your hard work and enthusiasm. You control your attitude and how you treat others. Your team spirit makes you better and makes the team better.
One of the greatest speeches I ever heard was by Coach Wooden when he was ninety-two years old. He was helped to a stool on stage, where he sat, without any notes, and talked for over an hour. He taught the fifteen blocks of his Pyramid of Success. He talked about things like cooperation, self-control, team spirit, and other principles that led to his success; not just in sports but in life.
It was by far the most meaningful talk I have ever heard. On that night, I was in the presence of greatness. I was blessed to hear from a man with extraordinary wisdom. I continue to make his wisdom a part of my daily reading. If you seek to be wise, study Coach Wooden– and change your life.