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Coach John Wooden Pyramid of Success
The Joy of Giving Without Expectation

“Be more concerned with what you can do for others than what others can do for you. You’ll be surprised at the results.” –Coach John Wooden

This quote of Coach Wooden’s reveals the attitude he used to approach every day of his life, reflected in this story:

Tony Robbins did a series of power talks in which he interviewed many famous people. When he interviewed Coach Wooden, he asked: “Coach, I have met and interviewed many famous and rich people, but some of them do not seem to be very happy. What advice would you give them?” Coach replied, “They should find somebody they can help.”

The fundamental truth that there is great joy in giving without expectation is aptly reflected by two other quotes Coach liked to refer to:

  • “There is a wonderful, mystical law of nature that the three things man craves the most in life—happiness, freedom and peace of mind—are always attained by giving them to someone else.” –Peyton Conway March
  • “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

As a practical matter, these key ideas in today’s network-driven, social environment are even more important.

I Googled character traits of a great networker and reviewed the results on four different websites, from which I got the following four results:

  1. Be generous… and have a giving spirit. Don’t think ‘what’s in it for me’ but rather ‘what’s in it for you?’
  2. Give good referrals without expectation.
  3. Have a sincere desire to help others.
  4. Always be prepared to help others regardless of who they are.

There are many joys and surprises of giving without expectation—as Peyton Conway stated, it is a wonderful, mystical law of nature. 

Photo by Syda Productions/

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.