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change and progress

“All change may not be progress, but all progress is the result of change.” –John Wooden

These timeless words of wisdom from Coach Wooden continue to become more and more important as technology improves our communication and the opportunities for change continue to increase.

The word progress is almost always welcomed. The word change sometimes creates resistance.

Robert Kennedy put it this way: “Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.”

Benjamin Franklin clearly described the necessity for change: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”

Albert Einstein took the idea a step further with his definition of insanity: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

In his book Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court with Steve Jamison, Coach Wooden put the idea in proper perspective:

You must never stand still. You’re either moving upward a little bit or you’re going the other way.

You can’t expect to go upward too quickly, but you can sure go down very quickly. The slide down happens in a hurry. Progress comes slowly but steadily if you are patient and prepare diligently.

Youth is a time of impatience. Young people can’t understand why the problems of society can’t be solved right now.

They haven’t lived long enough to fully understand human nature, and lack the patience that eventually brings an understanding of the relatively slow nature of change.

On the other hand, older people often become set in their ways, fear change, and accept problems that should be addressed and resolved.

The young must remember that all good and worthwhile things take time (and that is exactly as it should be).

Their elders must remember that although not all change is progress, all progress is the result of change (and to resist or fear change is often to get in the way of progress).

The practice of reminding any group that all change may not be progress, but all progress is the result of change when introducing a new program has a positive effect.

The idea communicates clearly that while there is no guarantee this new program will work, there is a possibility of improvement.

On the other hand, if we don’t try something new, there is no possibility of improvement.

This understanding creates an environment where people rally and take the approach: Let’s give it our best shot and see if we can make something positive happen.

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”

Related: Is Your Way the Best Way?

Image by Kutlayev Dmitry / Shutterstock

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.