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Today Is the Only Day That Matters

“When success turns your head, you face failure.” –Coach Wooden

This quote was not about handling adversity but rather about managing success. When Coach Wooden was asked: “You won 10 national championships, seven in a row. Once you started winning those championships, how did you maintain your commitment to excellence without getting complacent?”—he replied:

Today is the only day that matters; it’s the only day you can do anything about. Make each day your masterpiece.

The past will never change; anything that happened will never change. The future is yet to be; you’ve just got to concentrate on today, and if you do that the future will take care of itself.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to win because maybe you’re not good enough to win, but you’ll come closer to realizing your own potential.

I love poetry, and many of my players know that and many write me poems. One, Swen Nater, has written me over 100 poems. He has written a poem on almost every maxim I’ve used and all the blocks of my Pyramid, and one that he wrote was titled Today:

Coach, you’re a hunter and a seeker,
Not for silver or for gold.
Not for treasure or for pleasure,
Or for anything that’s sold.

You’re a connoisseur of living,
As you move along life’s way.
With no worries of tomorrow,
For you have found today.

You’ll never know a thing you didn’t learn from someone in the past, yes, you learn from the past but it’s not going to affect what you do today—tomorrow will be affected by what you do today. Do what you can today. Don’t put it off, do it today.

I tried to use that philosophy with my players, to try to just become a little better each day. That’s what I taught: Today is the only day you can do anything about. You can’t just say it, you’ve got to do it. You’ve got to repeat it. Repetition is one of the laws of learning and must be used over and over.

Photo by mimagephotography/

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.