June 11th, 2010

Best Success Advice You Will Ever Hear – Coach John Wooden, Remembered

Last week a great man passed away. His name was John Wooden. He was 99. If you weren’t familiar with Wooden, he was considered by many as the greatest basketball coach of all time, leading the UCLA Bruins to an incredible 10 national championships in 12 years. He was also well-known for the wit and wisdom of his famous “one-liners.”

Bill Walsh, former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers said,

“John Wooden is a “philosopher-coach” in the truest sense: a man whose beliefs, teachings, and wisdom go far beyond sports, and ultimately address how to bring out the very best in yourself and others in all areas of life…

“He is a master teacher who understands motivation, organization and psychology. Coach Wooden is able to successfully share his wisdom because he has a gift for expressing his philosophy directly and simply, in a manner accessible and applicable to everyone…

John Wooden is an American legend who would be as comfortable among the ancient sages as he is welcomed and respected by today’s citizens and leaders.”

Coach Wooden was well known for his way of packing great gems of wisdom into just a few words.

In memory of coach Wooden, I’ve picked out some of my favorites from coach Wooden’s famous “one liners” which I’ve gleaned from reading many of the books written by him and about him.

This is some of the most profound, yet simple success advice you will ever hear, not just on the court or in the sporting arena, but in all your life’s endeavors.


Tom Venuto

PS. Check out “Wooden: A lifetime of observations and reflections on and off the court.” A great, common-sense success book.

John Wooden’s All-Time Best One-Liners

There are no shortcuts
Always be progressing
Give it away to get it back
If you wish to be heard, listen
Laugh with others, never at them
Never mistake activity for achievement
Nothing is stronger than gentleness
Persistence is stronger than failure
There is no substitute for hard work
We get stronger when we test ourselves
Happiness begins where selfishness ends
You are more influential than you think
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
Discipline yourself and others won’t need to
Learn from the past, dont live in the past
Fear no opponent but respect every opponent
Hard work is the difference. Very hard work
Take what’s available and make the most of it
You never fail if you know you did your best
When you are through learning, you are through
What is right is more important than who is right
The time to make friends is before you need them
The worthy opponent brings out the very best in you
There is a price to be paid for achieving anything
You can do more good by being good than any other way
The difficult challenge provides the best opportunity
Once the opportunity arises, its too late to prepare
Greatness is being your best when your best is needed
Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating
The smallest good deed is better than the best intention
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation
Tell the truth, that way you dont have to remember a story
Everybody has a suggestion, not everybody has a decision
For every artificial peak you create, there is a valley
Be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way
Time spent getting even would be better spent trying to get ahead
Being average means you’re as close to the bottom as you are to the top
Ability can get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there
You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react
Much can be accomplished when no one is concerned about who gets the credit
Spend too much time learning tricks of the trade and you may never learn the trade

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22 Responses to “Best Success Advice You Will Ever Hear – Coach John Wooden, Remembered”

  • Sylvia T

    Wonderful stuff! Very precious pieces of advice from a great man. I think everyone can learn a lot from reading these one-liners,Thank you, Coach Wooden!Thank you, Tom!

  • samantha

    Tom, thank you for enumerating many of John Wooden’s most famous one-liners. I hear these being bandied about all the time, but did not know who to ascribe credit to.Anyways, they’re all fodder for motivation. Coach Wooden was a sagacious man, who bestowed upon us, pearls of wisdom that will live on in perpetuity. His legacy is awe-inspiring, and his character was beyond reproach. The world could certainly use more people with the moral fiber of John Wooden.I just heard another great motivational quote by the inimitable Vince Lombardi, who was the erstwhile coach of the Green Bay Packers. He lead them to victory in the first two Super Bowls ever played. His quote goes something like this, ” The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.”This particular quote resonates with me, particulary when my motivation and enthusiam for my fat loss program has waned. His words give me the added impetus I need to keep going…

  • Very inspirational. Excellent Post.

  • Michael C.

    Thanks for the great post. I don’t really follow sports too much, so this is a great eye-opener. I plan on getting his book to learn more about this man. Thanks, again.

  • Ferry

    Never heard from the man before. But these are definately great inspirational motivators.I should memorize these for the times when the going gets tough!

  • Fred Nichols

    Thanks for sharing Tom. I didn’t know about this GREAT man until I heard a 2003 interview with him. It is worth a listen, Mr. Wooden starts at 9:00 min. into the podcast:http://www.mynorthwest.com/?nid=577&a=18048

  • Pretty

    Straight after a 100 mins Cardio Session and a jam packed training program in the week ahead, this is just, just what I needed to get set!I have been surviving on John Wooden’s quotes in the past year through a difficult period in my life.Thank you Tom !! Thank you John, you will always be rememberd!

  • Bridgett

    These were so good, I copied them and saved them to my computer. I will print them out later and post them all over, I think,

  • Laurence

    Being French, I did not know about John Wooden ( my elder son, who is 19 and has played and loved basket ball since he was 7, might though ). Anyway, thanks a lot for these little pieces of wisdom. Agreeing with them is one ( easy ) thing, living in accordance with them might be a motivating challenge at times…

  • Lynn

    Tom,Thank you for this wonderful tribute to more than a legend – a real gentleman and deserving hero.Lynn Armstrong(A 59 1/2 year-old retired English teacher and fan of yours about to reach her goal weight – thanks for all your inspiration!!

  • karina

    May the road rise to meet him and his soul be filled with peace.

  • Pesi Padshah

    These one-liners are priceless — each one as good as, if not better than the last. Coming from you, Tom, I expected this to be about bodybuilding which it wasn’t, but I’m not one bit disappointed.

  • basim

    Just great and thanks for sharing

  • Rebecca

    i truly loved these one liners, very inspirational. makes me want to better myself every day.

  • Flo

    Thank you for this particular email Tom. I signed on as a member about a year ago with aspirations to do great things; exercise daily, eat right, etc. While I have not gotten much past the point of recording my goals (too many excuses to number), I still read most of your emails. This email caught my eye and I believe it is the most inspirational to date. You walk the walk Tom and you do your best to guide us to a healthier life, both physically and mentally. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and providing the tools that, should we choose to utilize them, can give us a road map to a better life. While I am have difficulties navigating your road map, you are having a positive influence in my life. Thank you again, F

  • reminds me of another quote; people like my quotes so much that they hang them on the wall but they don’t follow them. I hope this is not the case this time…

  • Mapsie

    Wow! very empowering one liners. Something to learn from and all are true. Thank you. They are very inspiring.

  • Enumah Ashionye

    Great piece. really good stuff to keep you on the track of life.

  • ogechukwu

    just great thanks for sharing i love it it is quite encouraging

  • Sumeet

    Thanks for sharing this Tom!!Best Regards,Sumeet

  • Tom, you are a true philosopher/ coach as well.You may not have coached any sports teams, but you have coached countless people to better health and fitness. And, like Coach John Wooden, your principles are applicable to every area of our lives – not just our diets and training programs.You rank right up there at the top! Kudos.

  • Hi Tom,Really, very nice advice from a great man. These one liners are great inspirational motivators. Thanks for sharing.

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