My Favorites of John Wooden’s Favorite Maxims

John Wooden was one of my favorite leadership examples. I have several books by him and like them all. I was reading Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court* last night and came across a list of Coach Wooden’s favorite maxims in the back of the book. I chose some of my favorites from the list and posted them here. I actually liked all of them but didn’t want to post them all. By the way, if you want a brief book on John Wooden’s philosophies, this is a great book to start with.

• Happiness begins where selfishness ends.

• Earn the right to be proud and confident.

• Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.

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

• If you do not have the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?

• The smallest good deed is better than the best intention.

• The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.

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

• Time spent getting even would be better spent trying to get ahead.

• You discipline those under your supervision to correct, to help, to improve—not to punish.

• Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.

• If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.

• As long as you try your best, you are never a failure. That is, unless you blame others.

• Do not permit what you cannot do to interfere with what you can do.

• Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Character is what you really are; reputation is merely what you are perceived to be.

• Be slow to criticize and quick to commend.

• Be more concerned with what you can do for others that what others can do for you. You’ll be surprised at the results.

• You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for another without thought of something in return.

• Forget favors given; remember those received.

• Treat all people with dignity and respect.

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3 thoughts on “My Favorites of John Wooden’s Favorite Maxims”

  1. Thanks for posting these. I have a signed copy of his success pyramid. I have had dozens of autographed items in my life, and I have lost or tossed most of them. The Wooden autograph is one I will cherish forever.

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