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Coach John Wooden Pyramid of Success
Happiness, Freedom and Peace of Mind—This Is How to Get Them

There is a wonderful, almost mystical, law of nature that says three of the things we want most—happiness, freedom, and peace of mind—are attained when we give them to others.

Here are some key ideas regarding the three things we want most:


“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves.” 

–James M. Barrie


“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” 

–Nelson Mandela

Peace of Mind: 

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” 

–H. H. the Dalai Lama

In his book The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership with Steve Jamison, Coach expanded on the idea:

“It has been my experience that doing good for others brings great inner peace, even joy, especially when done without thought of getting something back in return. Expecting so much as a thank you diminishes the joy of giving and helping others. At least it does for me.

‘A day lived without doing something good for others is a day not worth living.’ Mother Teresa wrote those words — and I believe those words to be true.”

In the book A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring, former LSU Coach and John Wooden mentee Dale Brown shared the most important lesson he learned from Coach Wooden:

“The greatest lesson I learned from Coach was to love what you were doing every day, and to love people. Many times when the waiter was pouring water for us in a restaurant, Coach would say “thank you,” while everyone else at the table just kept talking. Everyone felt his love for people—from those he didn’t really know, to his buddies.

Coach often told me that fame, fortune and power are not success, that three of the things we want most—happiness, freedom, and peace of mind—are always attained when we give them to others.”

Photo by @kayasoleia/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.