John Wooden - The difference between winning and succeeding

Jon Wooden is a very famous basketball coach at UCLA (also known as Wizard of Westwood). He led UCLA to record wins that are still unmatched in the world of basketball. Throughout his long life, he shared the values and life lessons he passed to his players, emphasizing success that’s about much more than winning.

In his lecture, he gives a glimpse of how he used to motivate the players to do their best and put all their effort, and that is a success. John Wooden emphasizes, "The difference between winning and success,". He was able to identify the top quality of successful individuals. In his speech, he goes back in time to his farm in Southern Indiana, and he remembered how his father said, you should never try to be better than someone else but try to learn from others. He coins the definition of success as “peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made an effort to do the best of which you’re capable.”  

Steve Cutts released a film, Happiness, in 2018, showcasing the rat race of today’s world. I feel everyone wants to be better or just run in that same race. According to Wooden, he stresses upon enjoying the now and the process of work rather than reaching the end , where he also quotes Cerrentes, “ the journey is better than the end .”

In this current situation, John Wooden's piece of wisdom is a blessing, a tool for professional and personal development :

  1. Never be late

  2. Always be neat and clean

  3. Be patient and faithful

Wooden spent decades identifying the characteristics and traits that help define a successful person and narrowed the list to 25 common behaviors. By 1948, he created the iconic triangular diagram and named it the “Pyramid of Success.”

When Coach Wooden introduced the world to the Pyramid of Success, he offered us all a roadmap for individual and team excellence.

The life principles summarized in the Pyramid of Success had no explicit reference to basketball or athletics. The coach’s diagram was simply a roadmap to being a better person.

His theory is envelopes the basics of characteristics. According to the coach, “Character and reputation – your reputation is what you’re perceived to be; your character is what you really are.  And I think that character is much more important than what you are perceived to be”.  If more organizations taught these principles to their staff and leaders they would have more effective leaders. 


Pyramid of Success PDF


I highly recommend checking out the video.


Video linked via TedTalk

Video linked via YouTube


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