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Much of what we see depends on what we are seeking.

Coach Wooden frequently told two different stories to illustrate this idea.


The first story was about a friend of his, Bob, who was visiting him at UCLA from Indiana. Upon arriving at Coach’s office on campus, Bob shared what he thought was important information with Coach Wooden:

John, these people in California aren’t as friendly as they are back home, Bob lamented. Coming over here this morning I met a lot of people and not a single person spoke to me. That would have never happened back home.

Did you speak to any of them? Coach asked.

Well, no, Bob said. I didn’t know them.

Coach would then remind us that in being friendly, someone has to take the first step.


In his book Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, Coach recounted another story:

There’s an old story about a fellow who went to a small town in Indiana with the thought of possibly moving his family there.

“What kind of people live around here?” he asked the attendant at the local filling station. “Well,” the attendant replied as he checked the oil, “what kind of people live back where you’re from?”

The visitor took a swallow of his cherry soda and replied, “They’re ornery, mean and dishonest!”

The attendant looked up and answered, “Mister, you’ll find them about like that around here, too.”

A few weeks later, another gentleman stopped by the gas station on a muggy July afternoon with the same question.

“Excuse me,” he said as he mopped off his brow. “I’m thinking of moving to your town with my family. What kind of people live around these parts?”

Again the attendant asked, “Well, what kind of people live back where you’re from?”

The stranger thought for a moment and replied, “I find them to be kind, decent and honest folks.”

The gas station attendant looked up and said, “Mister, you’ll find them about like that around here, too.”

It’s so true. You often find what you are looking for.


As Coach liked to say, people are usually as happy as they make up their mind to be.


Photo by Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

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, www.woodenswisdom.com. He is a motivational speaker and the author of Wooden’s Wisdom, a weekly “e-coaching module” that is distributed to companies nationally.