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Coach John Wooden Pyramid of Success

Make Each Day Your MasterpieceOne of Coach Wooden’s most well-known quotes is, “Make each day your masterpiece,” which is actually the third item in the list of “Seven Things to Do” given to Coach by his father. This list later became known as Coach Wooden’s “Seven Point Creed.”

Related:John Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: ‘Be True to Yourself’

To Coach, making each day your masterpiece means focusing on what you are doing right now to the best of your ability. It is about recognizing that nothing can be done about what happened yesterday, and that you can only affect what will happen tomorrow by what you do today.

A useful application of this wisdom is to apply it to where you are at each moment. For example, rather than dwelling on that horrible officiating call by a ref or obsessing over what went wrong in the last game, try to keep your mind right where you are now and focus on the positive things that surround you. Let go of the past, be it a week ago or an hour ago; don’t fret about the future, be it next week or next year. Apply this wisdom in small doses throughout your day and by the end of it you will have your masterpiece.

Coach Wooden also frequently made the point of not being fooled into thinking that you could make up for today’s lack of effort by working twice as hard tomorrow. By tomorrow, today’s masterpiece opportunity is gone. Moreover, if you could work twice as hard tomorrow, why wouldn’t you work twice as hard today?

A key element in Coach executing his “masterpiece strategy” was preparation and discipline. Coach planned and executed a consistent, disciplined daily schedule for himself; his team’s practices were organized in the same manner. Every warm-up, drill and conditioning exercise had a precise timeslot so that every necessary element was covered and every minute of practice was used efficiently. A clearly defined set of goals makes distraction a less formidable opponent. A masterpiece day is part of a well-executed game plan.

Related: Coach Wooden’s Life Lessons: The 4 Things a Man Must Learn to Do

As Coach was fond of saying:

  • “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”
  • “Don’t worry about things you can’t control because they may adversely affect the things you can control.”
  • “Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.”

And of course, Coach included a character trait on his Pyramid of Success to help execute the strategy: Self-Control. (“Practice self-discipline and keep emotions under control. Good judgment and common sense are essential.”)

“You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

Part of that good judgment and common sense essential for a masterpiece day includes thinking about the immediate needs of other people, too. I think Coach would agree that one of his favorite quotes definitely applies here: “You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” Coach always said the most important word in our language is love.

So discipline yourself. Focus on the here and now without allowing yourself to become distracted by days gone by. Love and help your fellow man to succeed without any expectation of remuneration. Plan every day as if it matters—because each day does. Give every single day your best effort, and you will make each day your masterpiece.

Related:John Wooden’s Legacy Is a How-To Guide for a Successful Life

Craig Impelman

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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.