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Coach John Wooden Pyramid of Success
Eat the Frog: A Case for Doing Your Hardest Task First

The person who usually does what he pleases is seldom pleased with what he does.

Coach grew up on a farm in Indiana, and he rose early every morning before going to school to help milk the cows and do other chores required around the farm. When he arrived home from school, there were always more chores to do along with his homework. His father always required that the work got done first.

“You had to work hard,” Coach said. “Dad felt there was time for play, but always after the chores and studies were done.”

Coach described how he applied this lesson he learned from his father:

There is no substitute for work. If you’re looking for the easy way, the shortcut, the trick, you may get something done for a while, but it will not be lasting and you will not be developing your ability.”

Coach was usually pleased with what he did because he seldom just did what he pleased.

As Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law, I received numerous requests to get items signed by Coach Wooden. I would arrive at his condo for a visit—a little embarrassed—with bags of basketballs, books, posters and a stack of Pyramids to be signed.

I would suggest we go relax in his den, visit and we could take care of the signature requests later. This suggestion was never accepted. Coach would take me directly to the dining room table and say let’s get these signatures taken care of first.

This idea has been applied as a basic fundamental of almost all time management strategies: When you have a list of tasks to do, choose the one that’s hardest and do that first.

Mark Twain wisely said, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.”

The key idea is that if you start the day out by doing the things you like least first, you’ll get them out of the way so you can enjoy your day more and be more productive and fulfilled.

Photo by @itsjuliwilliams/Twenty20

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.