COMMENTARY: Coach Wooden the Philosopher

According to Henry David Thoreau, a philosopher is a person who seeks to understand and solve the most serious problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically. A true philosopher, Thoreau added, is so committed to wisdom that he seeks to live wisely and so lives a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.

By this definition, John Wooden, my favorite coach and teacher, was every inch a great American philosopher. Here are just a few of his powerful insights:

On Perfection: “Perfection is an impossibility, but striving for perfection is not. Do the best you can. That is what counts.”

On Management: “You’ll get better cooperation and results if you are sincerely interested in people’s families and interests, not simply in how they do their job.”

On Learning: “Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”

On Success: “You must be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.”

On Trust: “You will be hurt occasionally if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough.”

On Joy: “Mix idealism with realism and add hard work. This will often bring much more than you could ever hope for.”

On Winning: “If you prepare properly, you may be outscored but you will never lose. You always win when you make the full effort to do the best of which you’re capable.”

You can read more in Be Quick – But Don’t Hurry with Andrew Hill and Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court with Steve Jamison.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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Comments 1

  1. Although he might be one of the most winningest coaches in history, Coach Wooden’s personal approach to coaching and sports is what makes him so beloved. Who wouldn’t want to play for a man that actually cared about his players and only asked they do their very best?

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