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Quotes That Inspired Coach Wooden

You’ll never know a thing that you didn’t learn from someone else.

Coach John Wooden attributed this quote to his father, and it became a core fundamental in his approach to life. Coach Wooden embodied certain important characteristics, which are found in many great leaders: great listening skills, an open mind and a constant desire to improve.

He had a file of “miscellaneous quotes to think about” that he either collected or originated—there were 110 in the list from a wide range of people, from Abraham Lincoln to Mother Theresa to Lao Tzu. Coach Wooden’s quest for knowledge did not reflect any limitations of culture or age.

The following is a list of some of the quotes Coach Wooden collected from others:

1. “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” –Abraham Lincoln

2. “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

3. “Wisdom, compassion and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.” –Confucius

4. “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

5. “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” –Lao Tzu

6. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” –Reinhold Niebuhr

7. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is courage to continue that counts.” –Winston Churchill

8. “There are no hopeless situations; there are only men who have grown hopeless about them.” –Clare Booth Luce

9. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” –Mahatma Gandhi

10. “A life not lived for others is not a life.” –Mother Teresa

11. “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Henry Thomas Buckle

Begin to collect and even originate your own list, with no limitation on your sources. You will be inspired by the great wisdom you find.

Start with Coach Wooden’s own motivational quotes!

Craig Impelman
As Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law, Craig Impelman had the opportunity to learn Coach’s teachings firsthand and wrote about those lessons for his site, He is a motivational speaker and the author of Wooden’s Wisdom, a weekly “e-coaching module” that is distributed to companies nationally.