One of the most revered coaches in the history of sports is John Wooden, nicknamed “The Wizard of Westwood,” who won 10 NCAA national championships in his 12-year career as head coach at the University of California Los Angeles.
Wooden, who passed away in June 2010, left behind a legacy as one of the most successful basketball coaches in the history of the sport, but he also left behind a blueprint on how to become the best and most successful person one can be.
Today, athletes, business leaders, employees and countless others follow these life lessons from Coach Wooden in their own lives. Below are five quotes from this great basketball icon that ring as true in today’s world as they did when he first spoke them.
“Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”
As one of the top blocks on Coach Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success,” competitive greatness does not mean beating everyone else, but doing your absolute best every day. No matter how small the job, excellence is earned by doing the most thorough work each day, every day. The best work is done by those who practice their skills, release excuses and do important things, even when the odds seem daunting.
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
Even the most menial tasks at a job serve a purpose, and those little things add up to create big results. Nothing a person does should be considered boring or insignificant. Strategic planning and execution of major projects also includes the little details that can make or break a triumph. Leaders can learn to appreciate their employees from the ground up by keeping this quote from Wooden in mind. The man who cleans the offices at night is as big a part of a company’s success as the top salesperson.
“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
People inevitably try to downplay someone else’s success or belittle another person. Friends, families, competitors and enemies are all guilty of this at one point or another. Wooden’s advice is to stop focusing on criticisms and focus on helpful critique. If a complaint is valid, that complaint can become a learning opportunity and a chance to improve. On the flip side, chasing flattery can be almost as debilitating as giving into criticism. Many people become dependent on praise, chasing the ego rub instead of true greatness.
“Don’t let making a living deprive you of making a life.”
Too many people trade daily enjoyment for achievement, but the key to true success is having both. Also called “work/life balance,” most people find happiness when they achieve something important and enjoy other aspects of life. Working is a way to earn a wage, but successful people also find delight while accomplishing goals and victories through their job.
“If I am through learning, I am through.”
In life, education is never finished. Most successful business owners, entrepreneurs, teachers or employees are constantly on the search for knowledge and ways to improve. Life always offers up opportunities to learn something new, whether it’s a new skill set, another language, a new hobby or a new perspective on life. Not expanding a base of knowledge or experience leads to stagnation and boredom. Continuous learning is powerful, so take life’s lessons from Coach Wooden to begin building your legacy.