John Wooden was one of the most successful coaches and leaders to ever live. Read his best, most unforgettable, and inspiring quotes.
John Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) was the head coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team from 1948 to 1975.
As the UCLA Bruins head coach, he was famous for winning ten National Collegiate Athletic Association national championships in 12 years, including a record of seven in a row.
He’s also known for two record-winning streaks. The longest streak was 88 consecutive games (throughout four seasons) and 38 consecutive NCAA tournament games.
John Wooden has also been named the NCAA’s College Basketball Coach of the Year six times.
Additionally, John Wooden is regarded as one of the best leaders to ever live.
He focused on making perfection the goal and improving a little every day.
If you made the effort to do the best you can and had peace of mind because of that, Wooden would define you as successful.
Related: How to be more confident
50+ motivating and unforgettable quotes by John Wooden
As a leader and coach, John Wooden has said motivating and powerful things that are constantly quoted today.
Some of his most famous quotes are also known as “Woodenisms”.
The following are the most inspiring and unforgettable John Wooden quotes around leadership, success, and life.
1. “Make each day your masterpiece.” -John Wooden
2. “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” -John Wooden
3. “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.” -John Wooden
4. “Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” -John Wooden
5. “Nothing will work unless you do.” -John Wooden
6. “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” -John Wooden
7. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” -John Wooden
8. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” -John Wooden
9. “The best competition I have is against myself to become better.” -John Wooden
10. “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” -John Wooden
11. “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” -John Wooden
12. “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” -John Wooden
13. “It takes time to create excellence. If it could be done quickly, more people would do it.” -John Wooden
14. “All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” -John Wooden
15. “Just try to be the best you can be; never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s in your power.” -John Wooden
16. “If you are afraid to fail, you will never do the things you are capable of doing.” -John Wooden
17. “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.” -John Wooden
18. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” -John Wooden
19. “You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better.” -John Wooden
20. “Earn the right to be proud and confident.” -John Wooden
21. “Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.” -John Wooden
22. “Never try to be better than someone else. Learn from others, and try to be the best you can be. Success is the by-product of that preparation.” -John Wooden
23. “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” -John Wooden
24. “Never mistake activity for achievement.” -John Wooden
25. “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” -John Wooden
26. “We can have no progress without change, whether it be basketball or anything else.” -John Wooden
27. “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” -John Wooden
28. “Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.” -John Wooden
29. “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.” -John Wooden
30. “Make a decision! Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.” -John Wooden
31. “You must be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.” -John Wooden
32. “Well, your greatest joy definitely comes from doing something for another, especially when it was done with no thought of something in return.” -John Wooden
33. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” -John Wooden
34. “You will find that success and attention to details, the smallest details, usually go hand in hand.” -John Wooden
35. “When you hurry you’re more apt to make mistakes. But you have to be quick. If you’re not quick you can’t get things done.” -John Wooden
36. “You can never make up for a lost day. Don’t think you can make up for it by working twice as hard tomorrow. If you have it within your power to work twice as hard, why aren’t you doing it now?” -John Wooden
37. “Never lie, never cheat, never steal.” -John Wooden
38. “Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.” -John Wooden
39. “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.” -John Wooden
40. “It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.” -John Wooden
41. “If I am through learning, I am through.” -John Wooden
42. “Love is the most important thing in the world. Hate, we should remove from the dictionary.” -John Wooden
43. “Ability is a poor man’s wealth.” -John Wooden
44. “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.” -John Wooden
45. “I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.” -John Wooden
46. “What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.” -John Wooden
47. “I talked to the players and tried to make them aware of what was good and bad, but I didn’t try to run their lives.” -John Wooden
48. “I think that in any group activity – whether it be business, sports, or family – there has to be leadership or it won’t be successful.” -John Wooden
49. “A strong leader accepts blame and gives the credit. A weak leader gives blame and accepts the credit.” -John Wooden
50. “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.” -John Wooden
51. “Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.” -John Wooden
52. “Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to.” -John Wooden
53. “You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes.” -John Wooden
54. “Defense is a definite part of the game, and a great part of defense is learning to play it without fouling.” -John Wooden
Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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