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Coach John Wooden Pyramid of Success

“The happiest moments in life come from making someone else happy.” –John Wooden

This quote reflects a key idea Coach Wooden was constantly trying to share: help others, a lesson he was taught by his father through example and his Seven-Point Creed.

In fact, many of the quotes Coach referred to were inspired by the same simple idea. These were some of his favorites:

  • “Real happiness begins where selfishness ends.”
  • “You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone without a thought of repayment.”
  • “Be more concerned with what you can do for others than what others can do for you. You’ll be surprised at the results.”
  • “Be more concerned with loving than being loved, giving than receiving, being a friend than having a friend.”

Once when Coach Wooden was asked how he would like to be remembered, he replied, as a person who was considerate of others.

The wisdom that he learned and tried to share with us was that being considerate was not a burden or obligation to him, but rather it made him very happy to do it.

Coach was all the things considerate means—attentive, thoughtful, mindful, obliging, accommodating, helpful, cooperative, patient, kind, unselfish, compassionate, sympathetic, caring, charitable, altruistic, generous, polite, sensitive, tactful—and he acted toward others with all these qualities.

It seems like common sense when we think about it in the context of making a child happy—a parent at a birthday party or a volunteer coaching a youth sports team. But in adult relationships or in business, it can be puzzling to understand why we are not happy.

The solution is in this simple idea: The happiest moments in life come from making someone else happy.

So slow down and take the time to make someone else happy, and the smile in your heart and on your face will reappear.

Related: The Joy of Giving Without Expectation

Photo by fizkes/

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.