30 Motivational John Wooden Quotes That You Should Know

john wooden quotes

There are some people who can impact your life and make a positive difference in your outlook toward life. It may not happen often, but when it does, such people can significantly influence your life.

One of these people is John Wooden, a beautiful soul who achieved worldwide acclaim in basketball — not just due to hard physical work and strategy but also by sharing his wisdom and guidance with the young people who were fortunate enough to be under his mentorship. Here’s a list of some of the best John Wooden quotes that will give you food for thought.

Who Is John Wooden?

John Wooden

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John Wooden bagged the reputation of being the best NCAA basketball head coach. And because of this, he is known to many as simply Coach. He was also given the nickname “Wizard of Westwood”.

He was a man who left a strong legacy on and outside the court. John led the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team to championships, helping the team to hold a record of 664-162 and 10 NCAA championships.

His winning attitude and motivating guidance helped lead the team to victory. This also led to John being awarded the NCAA College Basketball Coach of the Year not just once but six times during his career!

Throughout his 40 years as a coach, John changed countless lives. During his stint as the UCLA head coach, he created a working elite athletic program that is still being practiced. His success as a basketball player should undoubtedly be celebrated, but John’s teachings and practical wisdom go beyond the court and the world of sports and deserve recognition.

He was a master teacher who devised the Pyramid of Success and authored books to share his philosophy. He helped athletes identify the right reasons to pursue sports while at the same time influencing non-athletes to embrace life with a positive outlook.

Former players, including Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, were all inspired by Coach — and so does everyone who gets a dose of his outlook-changing “Woodenisms.”

30 John Wooden Quotes


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#1. “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.
#2. “Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.
#3. “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.
#4. “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.
#5. “Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.
#6. “Nothing will work unless you do.
#7. “Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.
#8. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
#9. “Young people need models, not critics.
#10. “I think you have to be what you are. Don’t try to be somebody else. You have to be yourself at all times.
#11. “Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.
#12. “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.
#13. “Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendships a fine art, drink deeply from good books—especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.
#14. “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
#15. “If you’re true to yourself, you’re going to be true to everyone else.
#16. “Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.
#17. “Never cease trying to be the best you can be.
#18. “The best competition I have is against myself to become better.
#19. “Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.
#20. “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
#21. “There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer.
#22. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
#23. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.
#24. “In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.
#25. “Friendship is two-sided. It isn’t a friend just because someone’s doing something nice for you. That’s a nice person. There’s friendship when you do for each other. It’s like marriage – it’s two-sided.
#26. “There’s as much crookedness as you want to find. There was something Abraham Lincoln said — he’d rather trust and be disappointed than distrust and be miserable all the time. Maybe I trusted too much.
#27. “Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.
#28. “Well, your greatest joy definitely comes from doing something for another, especially when it was done with no thought of something in return.
#29. “Somebody asked me — you know, how come it took you so long to win a national championship? And I said, ‘I’m a slow learner, but you notice when I learn something, I have it down pretty good.
#30. “I’m no wizard, and I don’t like being thought of in that light at all. I think of a wizard as being some sort of magician or something, doing something on the sly or something, and I don’t want to be thought of in that way.

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