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Coach John Wooden Pyramid of Success
John Wooden motivational quotes

“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden taught more than the game—he taught life.  A leadership icon, he was influential on the court and off, and his life lessons are unforgettable and timeless.

“When you talk to John Wooden, you wouldn’t even know you were talking to a basketball coach,” says SUCCESS Ambassador and best-selling author John C. Maxwell. “It was the principles of life that people wanted to hear from him.”

Related: Timeless Lessons From John Wooden, the Greatest Coach of All Time

In this short clip, Maxwell discusses leadership lessons Wooden passed down to his former players, such as sportscaster Bill Walton and actor Beau Bridges.

University of Memphis basketball coach Tubby Smith also discusses Wooden’s life lessons, including a poem by Henry Van Dyke passed down from Wooden’s father.

“Wooden always carried this creed on a card that his father gave him,” Smith says. “It read, ‘The four things a man must learn to do if he would make his record true.’”

The Four Things a Man Must Learn to Do

  • Think without confusion clearly
  • Love his fellow-men sincerely
  • Act from honest motives purely
  • Trust in God and heaven securely

Wooden believed that his greatest responsibility as a coach and teacher was to turn his players into mature and honorable young men, who were well prepared for life beyond basketball, and that his students’ success should not be measured by grades and wins alone, but also by heart and character. Wooden accomplished this with his teachings based in personal development.

Related: 27 Quotes by John Wooden to Motivate You to Be Better

Explore for more blogs and videos about John Wooden’s legacy.

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.