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“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will be in torment if you do not trust enough.” –Frank Crane

This quote by Frank Crane, who was a Presbyterian minister, speaker and columnist, was a favorite of Coach Wooden’s and a core value he used to approach everyday life and build his leadership style.

In Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and off the Court, Coach Wooden summarized his philosophy on trust:

It has been said that you will be hurt occasionally if you trust too much. This may be true, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough. Trusting is part of our higher nature. Doubting is a lower instinct. The latter is easy to do, the former more difficult—but so much more rewarding.

Coach Wooden’s favorite text on leadership was an essay called “The Art of Leadership” from the book The Art of Living by Wilfred A. Peterson, in which Mr. Peterson wrote: “The leader has faith in people. He believes in them, trusts them, and thus draws out the best in them.”

Coach felt that a key element of effective leadership was creating trust. Coach expanded on this idea in The Essential Wooden:

How does a leader create trust? Here’s how: Do the things you should do and that those under your leadership have a right to expect from you.

Show confidence in their ability to reach their potential. Help them overcome mistakes by getting to the core reason for errors or misjudgments without seeking to blame, condemn or punish.

Show those under your supervision that you believe they can succeed. Be fair. Be trusting.

In short, be the kind of leader whose team you’d like to be a member of.

In the same book, Coach described the process of building a team with trust as a centerpiece:

Gather good people; teach them; train them. And then have courage enough to trust them to do what they’re supposed to do.

Trust begets trust. Yours begets theirs. Be brave enough to trust, and it will be returned.

Eric Hoffer wrote: “Someone who thinks the world is always cheating him is right. He is missing that wonderful feeling of trust in someone or something.”

We must have relationships based on trust to be happy. If we trust others, we will be deceived on occasion, but without that trust we have no chance at true happiness.

Photo by GaudiLab/

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.