Lessons From The Wizard of Westwood (John Wooden)

December 17 2013, 0 Comments

Born on October 14 1910,  John Wooden showed an interest in basketball from an early age. Playing for his high-school team as an adolescent, Wooden went on to have a successful career as a basketball coach, earning many honors over the years and gaining a reputation for leading his teams to success. As a coach for the UCLA, his teams won an astounding 88 consecutive games, and touched thousands of people with his unique wisdom and ability. Nicknamed The Wizard of Westwood, Wooden passed away on June 4 2010, leaving a legacy of inspiring and thought-provoking advice that is as apt today as ever. We take a look at a handful of John Wooden’s motivational comments and consider how we can benefit from these lessons both in training and life.


Pyramid of Success

One of Wooden’s best known projects is his Pyramid of Success, which is used as a training tool all over the world. The Pyramid is set on a foundation of industriousness and enthusiasm, as Wooden believed that without these, any project would lack the strength to move to the next level. Treating others well and being able to work with others as part of a team were also keystones of the first level. Working the way up the pyramid, Wooden placed all the elements which he felt were essential – from learning self-control to developing skills and taking the initiative.


Famous Quotes from John Wooden

If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.

Wooden realized that to learn anything in life, we need to make mistakes – and that if you aren’t making mistakes, you probably aren’t making much progress at all. In life and fitness training alike, pushing forward and encountering new situations or tests of skill means that you will inevitably come across something you can’t do, or do wrong at the first attempt. This is what progress is about – taking what you cannot do and continuing to hone your abilities until you can.

Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you

Your dreams for the future can seem distant, but Wooden’s advice is to keep those hopes close at heart. Having something to aim for always serves as motivation, and to give up on those dreams (whether they are to complete a marathon or become self-employed) instantly casts them out of reach. Having a solid goal, whatever it is, keeps us on track and little by little allows you to achieve the “impossible”.

Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then

Life is full of ups and downs and John knew that taking advantage of these, particularly the low points, makes an individual more resilient. It is at those times, when it seems that the world is doing nothing to help you that you learn more about yourself than when you are surrounded by those who comfort and support you.

The main ingredient for stardom is the rest of the team

As a coach, Wooden was responsible for bringing talented individuals together and helping them to merge to form a strong team – something which he did with success time and time again. What he recognized is that to get to the top, a single swollen ego would be of no use. In daily life and in the workplace, we can use this piece of advice to take projects to a new level and build our personal connection with colleagues and friends.