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Coach John Wooden Pyramid of Success
be quick but don't hurry

“Be quick but don’t hurry” was a frequent phrase Coach John Wooden used at basketball practice, and it has great application to all phases of everyday life.

Andy Hill, author of Be Quick- But Don’t Hurry, put it this way when he spoke at the first John R. Wooden Course:

“This phrase applies not just to sports, but to every phase of your life. It applies to our expectations of anything we hope to accomplish and how quickly we can expect to get there.

“Impatience and unrealistic goals will sabotage a talented group of individuals in any workplace.

“Set your sights too high and expect immediate attainment of your goals, and invariably, you will never reach your destination.

“It is vital to focus on things that you can actually control, like your own effort, as opposed to external controls over which you have no control.

“Leaders should strive for quickness in their work. Most people are naturally hesitant, and the Wooden approach was to remove all hesitation from the game.

“If you can remove hesitation from your game, you will be well on your way to being a better leader and your organization will run more efficiently.”

Andy further identified four key pointers to remove hesitation:

  1. Avoid delays.
  2. Avoid maybe.
  3. Move on from mistakes.
  4. Follow your instincts.

Coach commented on the importance of quickness as follows:

You have to know what to do, but you have to be quick to do it or you might not get to do it at all.

I think that’s important in most everything. Don’t hurry. You make mistakes when you hurry.

Be under control. I want quickness under control.

Otherwise, you’ll have activity without achievement. I don’t care for activity without achievement.

Coach believed that quickness in proper execution was necessary.

He believed that quickness was a result of preparation and often cautioned that failure to prepare is preparing to fail.

If you hurry and make mistakes, it is simply activity. As Coach often said, don’t mistake activity for achievement.

Be quick but don’t hurry, and as you prepare to take action, consider the question Coach Wooden posted on the team bulletin board:

If you do not have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

Related: ‘Respect Every Opponent, but Fear None’

Photo by Jacob Lund /

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.