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117 John Wooden Quotes That Will Change Your Life



117 John Wooden Quotes That Will Change Your Life

John Wooden was an American basketball player and head coach at the University of California at Los Angeles.

He was one of the most revered coaches in sporting history winning a record ten NCAA championships in a 12-year period including a record seven in a row. Wooden was beloved by his former players and renowned for his short, simple inspirational messages to his players, including his “Pyramid of Success.” These often were directed at how to be a success in life as well as in basketball.

Over his 29-year career Coach John Wooden’s wisdom has not only been useful in basketball but in business, personal success and leadership too. I’ve put together a collection of 117 of the best John Wooden quotes that will change your life.

117 John Wooden Quotes

1. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden

2. “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” – John Wooden

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

4. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden

5. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden

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

7. “The best competition I have is against myself to become better.” – John Wooden

8. “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

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

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

11. “Young people need models, not critics.” – John Wooden

12. “Never mistake activity for achievement.” – John Wooden

13. “I think you have to be what you are. Don’t try to be somebody else. You have to be yourself at all times.” – John Wooden

14. “Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.” – John Wooden

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

16. “Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.” – John Wooden

17. “Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to.” – John Wooden

18. “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

19. “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

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

21. “If I am through learning, I am through.” – John Wooden

22. “Love is the most important thing in the world. Hate, we should remove from the dictionary.” – John Wooden

23. “You can do more good by being good than any other way.” – John Wooden

24. “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” – John Wooden

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

26. “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” – John Wooden

27. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” – John Wooden

28. “It is the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden

29. “Listen if you want to be heard.” – John Wooden

30. “Nothing will work unless you do.” – John Wooden

31. “If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.” – John Wooden

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

33. “Talent is god-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” – John Wooden

34. “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

35. “If you are afraid to fail, you will never do the things you are capable of doing.” – John Wooden

36. “Don’t be afraid to fail. The greatest failure of all is not to act when action is needed.” – John Wooden

37. “You never fail if you know in your heart that you did the best of which you are capable. I did my best. That is all I could do. Are you going to make mistakes? Of course. But it is not failure if you make the full effort.” – John Wooden

38. “The importance of repetition until automaticity cannot be overstated. Repetition is the key to learning.” – John Wooden

39. “Remember, results aren’t the criteria for success — it’s the effort made for achievement that is most important.” – John Wooden

40. “The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.” – John Wooden

41. “Mistakes come from doing, but so does success.” – John Wooden

42. “Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” – John Wooden

43. “Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.” – John Wooden

44. “It’s always about focusing not on the mistakes but on the lessons learned from them.” – John Wooden

45. “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” – John Wooden

46. “Did I win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort? That’s what matters. The rest of it just gets in the way.” – John Wooden

47. “Never believe you’re better than anybody else, but remember that you’re just as good as everybody else.” – John Wooden

48. “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

49. “It’s important to keep trying to do what you think is right no matter how hard it is or how often you fail. You never stop trying. I’m still trying.” – John Wooden

50. “Perfection is what you are striving for, but perfection is an impossibility. However, striving for perfection is not an impossibility. Do the best you can under the conditions that exist. That is what counts.” – John Wooden

51. “Does worrying about it, complaining about it, change it? Nope, it just wastes your time. And if you complain about it to other people, you’re also wasting their time. Nothing is gained by wasting all of that time.” – John Wooden

52. “If you spend too much time learning the tricks of the trade, you may not learn the trade. There are no shortcuts. If you’re working on finding a short cut, the easy way, you’re not working hard enough on the fundamentals. You may get away with it for a spell, but there is no substitute for the basics. And the first basic is good, old-fashioned hard work.” – John Wooden

53. “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.” – John Wooden

54. “Early on I came to believe that you should learn as if you were going to live forever, and live as if you were going to die tomorrow. What does this mean? In the simplest way, I would explain it like this. Always be learning, acquiring knowledge, and seeking wisdom with a sense that you are immortal and that you will need much knowledge and wisdom for that long journey ahead. Know that when you are through learning, you are through. But I want to live that life as if I were going to die tomorrow: with relish, immediacy, and the right priorities. I also will not waste even a minute.” – John Wooden

55. “Happiness is in many things. It’s in love. It’s in sharing. But most of all, it’s in being at peace with yourself knowing that you are making the effort, the full effort, to do what is right.” – John Wooden

56. “It’s simple. Don’t compare yourself to somebody else, especially materially. If I’m worrying about the other guy and what he’s doing, about what he’s making, about all the attention he’s getting, I’m not going to be able to do what I’m capable of doing. It’s a guaranteed way to make yourself miserable.” – John Wooden

57. “Envy, jealousy, and criticism can become cancerous. They hurt the person who feels them rather than the person they’re directed toward.” – John Wooden

58. “I think that is the tendency of people who choke under pressure. They’re thinking about living up to the expectations of everybody else instead of just doing their job the best they can.” – John Wooden

59. “Adversity often produces the unexpected opportunity. Look for it. Appreciate and utilize it. This is difficult to do if you’re feeling sorry for yourself because you’re faced with adversity.” – John Wooden

60. “So often we fail to acknowledge what we have because we’re so concerned about what we want. We fail to give real thanks for the many blessings for which we did nothing: our life itself, the flowers, the trees, our family and friends.” – John Wooden

61. “A mistake is valuable if you do four things with it: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.” – John Wooden

62. “The eight laws of learning are explanation, demonstration, imitation, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition.” – John Wooden

63. “If you do enough small things right, big things can happen.” – John Wooden

64. “I believe one of the requirements of good leadership is the ability to listen – really listen – to those in your organization. An effective leader is very good at listening, and it’s difficult to listen when you are talking.” – John Wooden

65. “Champions never complain, they are too busy getting better.” – John Wooden

66. “A strong leader accepts blame and gives the credit. A weak leader gives blame and accepts the credit.” – John Wooden

67. “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.” – John Wooden

68. “The time to prepare isn’t after you have been given the opportunity. It’s long before that opportunity arises. Once the opportunity arrives, it’s too late to prepare.” – John Wooden

69. “There is no substitute for hard work. If you’re looking for the easy way, if you’re looking for the trick, you might get by for a while, but you will not be developing the talents that lie within you. There is simply no substitute for work.” – John Wooden

70. “Give me 100 percent. You can’t make up for a poor effort today by giving 110 percent tomorrow. You don’t have 110 percent. You only have 100 percent, and that’s what I want from you right now.” – John Wooden

71. “If you get too engrossed and involved and concerned in regard to things over which you have no control, it will adversely affect the things over which you have control.” – John Wooden

72. “Don’t permit fear of failure to prevent effort. We are all imperfect and will fail on occasions, but fear of failure is the greatest failure of all.” – John Wooden

73. “There is no more powerful leadership tool than your own personal example.” – John Wooden

74. “Never lie; never cheat; never steal. Don’t whine; don’t complain; don’t make excuses.” – John Wooden

75. “Be more concerned with what you can do for others than what others can do for you. You’ll be surprised at the results.” – John Wooden

76. “Promise yourself you will talk health, happiness, and prosperity as often as possible. Promise to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best in yourself and others. Promise to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements in the future.” – John Wooden

77. “I don’t believe in looking back. If you make a decision that you think is the proper one at a time, then that’s the correct decision.” – John Wooden

78. “Reputation is what others perceive you as being, and their opinion may be right or wrong. Character, however, is what you really are, and nobody truly knows that but you. But you are what matters most.” – John Wooden

79. “Don’t think that 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

80. “We’re not all equal as far as intelligence is concerned. We’re not equal as far as size. We’re not all equal as far as appearance. We do not all have the same opportunities. We’re not born in the same environments, but we’re all absolutely equal in having the opportunity to make the most of what we have and not comparing or worrying about what others have.” – John Wooden

81. “The individual who is mistake-free is also probably sitting around doing nothing. And that is a very big mistake.” – John Wooden

82. “Understand there is a price to be paid for achieving anything of significance. You must be willing to pay the price.” – John Wooden

83. “Remember this, the choices you make in life, make you.” – John Wooden

84. “Be observing constantly. Stay open-minded. Be eager to learn and improve.” – John Wooden

85. “Remember this your lifetime through: Tomorrow there will be more to do. And failure waits for all who stay with some success made yesterday. Tomorrow you must try once more, and even harder than before.” – John Wooden

86. “Hustle makes up for many a mistake.” – John Wooden

87. “Opponents are working very hard to defeat us. Let’s not do it for them by defeating ourselves from within.” – John Wooden

88. “Let’s face it, we’re all imperfect and we’re going to fall short on occasion. But we must learn from failure and that will enable us to avoid repeating our mistakes. Through adversity, we learn, grow stronger, and become better people.” – John Wooden

89. “Make each day your masterpiece. Life is now. Life is not later on.” – John Wooden

90. “Too often we get distracted by what is outside of our control. You can’t do anything about yesterday. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come. However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today. So make today a masterpiece. You have control over that.” – John Wooden

91. “Respect a man, and he will do all the more.” – John Wooden

92. “Promise yourself to make all your friends know there is something in them that is special and that you value.” – John Wooden

93. “Losing is only temporary and not encompassing. You must simply study it, learn from it, and try hard not to lose the same way again. Then you must have the self-control to forget about it.” – John Wooden

94. “We’re all imperfect and we all have needs. The weak usually do not ask for help, so they stay weak. If we recognize that we are imperfect, we will ask for help and we will pray for the guidance necessary to bring positive results to whatever we are doing.” – John Wooden

95. “Promise to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit trouble to press on you.” – John Wooden

96. “There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.” – John Wooden

97. “You can always do more than you think you can.” – John Wooden

98. “Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick, no easy way.” – John Wooden

99. “Failure is not the crime. Low aim is.” – John Wooden

100. “Winning and losing aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, but the trip to the destination is.” – John Wooden

101. “Never let your emotions overrule your head.” – John Wooden

102. “All that matters is the pressure you put on yourself. External pressures cause people to choke. While you can’t control what happens to you, you can control how you react.” – John Wooden

103. “Success is mine when I work my hardest to become my best, and I alone determine whether I do so.” – John Wooden

104. “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best you were capable of? If yes, you will probably be OK with the outcome.” – John Wooden

105. “We should never let ambition cause us to sacrifice our integrity or diminish our efforts in other areas. However, we need to remember that we never reach a serious goal unless we have the intention of doing so.” – John Wooden

106. “Cultivate the ability to make decisions and think alone. Do not be afraid of failure, but learn from it.” – John Wooden

107. “Make your “yes” mean yes, and your “no” mean no.” – John Wooden

108. “Push yourself to keep improving or you’ll stay as close to the bottom as you are to the top.” – John Wooden

109. “First, do not betray yourself. Second, do not betray those you lead.” – John Wooden

110. “Working with others makes us much more than we could ever become alone.” – John Wooden

111. “You have to work hard, and you have to enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy it, no matter how hard you seem to work, you’re not going to be working as hard as you can because you’re not enjoying it.” – John Wooden

112. “If pursuing material things becomes your only goal, you will fail in so many ways. Besides, in time all material things go away.” – John Wooden

113. “Never be disagreeable just because you disagree.” – John Wooden

114. “We are all equal in that we can all strive to become the best we are capable of becoming. We can always improve but we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. We get in trouble when we start trying to measure up to someone else.” – John Wooden

115. “Forget favors given; remember those received.” – John Wooden

116. “Before success comes patience… when we add to our accomplishments the element of hard work over a long period of time, we’ll place a far greater value on the outcome. When we are patient, we’ll have a greater appreciation of our success.” – John Wooden

117. “You should never try to be better than someone else, you should always be learning from others. But you should never cease trying to be the best you could be because that’s under your control and the other isn’t.” – John Wooden

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