50 Best John Wooden Quotes on Leadership

john wooden quotes

John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach for the UCLA Bruins, was a teacher of life and basketball. These quotes on leadership will improve your life.

Wooden, who was nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood“, won more college basketball championships than any other coach.

Coach Wooden had many quotes on life and leadership. One of his famous lessons of wisdom was The Pyramid of Success.

Here are 50 John Wooden quotes that capture his wisdom on life and leadership:

John Wooden quotes on life

“Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

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

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”

“Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.”

“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.”

“The most important thing in the world is family and love.”

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

“Never mistake activity for achievement.”

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

“Make each day your masterpiece.” Coach Don Meyer frequently cited this quote.

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

“It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.”

“Be quick but don’t hurry.”

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

“What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.”

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings and the feelings of others before your own rights.”

“You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes.”

“Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.”

“The best competition I have is against myself to become better.”

John Wooden
Coach John Wooden

Wisdom from his father

John Wooden’s father gave his son a card when he graduated elementary school. On one side was a poem from Rev. Henry Van Dkyke. On the other side was a list of seven things to do. Wooden adopted the list as his 7-Point Creed.

Poem by Henry Van Dyke

“Four things a man must learn to do
If he would make his life more true:
To think without confusion clearly,
To love his fellow-man sincerely,
To act from honest motives purely,
To trust in God and Heaven securely.” 

Henry Van Dyke

John Wooden’s 7-point creed

1. Be true to yourself.
2. Help others.
3. Make each day your masterpiece.
4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

John Wooden quotes on leadership

“Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge.”

“Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to.”

“I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.”

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”

“It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.”

“Happiness begins where selfishness ends.”

“The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.”

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

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

“You can lose when you outscore somebody in a game. And you can win when you’re outscored.”

“Earn the right to be proud and confident.”

“Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.”

“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”

“Young people need models, not critics.”

“Forget favors given; remember those received.”

“Tell the truth. That way you don’t have to remember a story.”

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”

“A true test of a person’s character is their willingness to sacrifice for an unselfish goal.”

“A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player.”

“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

“Good things take time, as they should. We shouldn’t expect good things to happen overnight.”

“It’s not about big steps, it’s about lots of little steps.”

“Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character.”

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

“Passion is momentary; love is enduring.”

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