Life Advice From John Wooden’s Dad

One of John Wooden’s biggest influences in his life was his dad, Joshua Wooden.

In his books (see the end of the post for a list of books), John Wooden explains how his dad gave him and his brothers simple rules to live by organized into what he called “Two Sets of Threes.” The first set was about honesty:

Never lie.
Never cheat.
Never steal.

The second set dealt with adversity:

Don’t whine.
Don’t complain.
Don’t make excuses.

Then, when John Wooden graduated from elementary school, his dad gave him a $2 bill and a card. On one side of the card was this poem by Reverend 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.

On the other side of the card, Joshua Wooden wrote “Seven Things to Do:”

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.

Imagine if parents (myself included) taught these guidelines to their kids!

If you’re not familiar with John Wooden, I would like to encourage you to check out the following books (although they are all good, the first one is probably my favorite):

Wooden on Leadership

Wooden – a short little book.

The Essential Wooden

My Personal Best : Life Lessons from an All-American Journey

They Call Me Coach

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