“Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
Coach Wooden used this famous quote, most often attributed to Winston Churchill, as the epigraph to introduce Chapter 17 of his book They Call Me Coach. In that chapter, he discusses his years of coaching at UCLA before his teams won championships. It is frequently mentioned that Coach Wooden’s teams won 10 national championships in his last 12 years of coaching, but it is important to remember that he coached for 29 years before he won the first one.
The earliest recorded evidence of this quote was in the 1930s in an advertisement for Budweiser beer, printed in multiple newspapers. The following is the original text:
Men with the spirit of youth pioneered our America… men with vision and sturdy confidence. They found contentment in the thrill of action, knowing that success was never final and failure never fatal. It was courage that counted. Isn’t opportunity in America today greater than it was in the days of our grateful forefathers? Good!
A newspaper ad written in 1938 still provides a great perspective today!
It has been said that courage, like love, must be nourished with hope. The following is a story Coach Wooden told me, which combines courage, love and hope for an amazing result:
Years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out with a relish to run the race to the finish and win; all, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back, and then they all turned around and went back—every one of them. One girl bent down and kissed him and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes.
Courage and love nourished by hope is a beautiful thing.
Related: The Most Important Thing Is Love
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