John Robert Wooden: A Simple Man, A Lasting Example

A very great man departed this earth yesterday. He happened to gain notoriety as a basketball player and coach, but his profession had nothing to do with his greatness. It simply provided a platform to share it with the world.

John Robert Wooden was born in Hall, Indiana on October 14, 1910. And he left us in Los Angeles 99 years later. As a basketball player at Purdue, Wooden won a national championship and was a three-time All-American. As UCLAs head basketball coach he won 620 games during 27 seasons.  And during his last 12 seasons he led UCLA to 10 national championships – at one point winning seven in a row.

He’s one of three men to have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and  a coach. It’s easy to understand why his nickname became The Wizard of Westwood, and it’s inspiring to know how he felt about it…

“I’m no wizard, and I don’t like being thought of in that light at all. I think of a wizard as being some sort of magician or something, doing something on the sly or something, and I don’t want to be thought of in that way.”

How ’bout some more “Woodenisms”…

Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.

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.

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

Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Never mistake activity for achievement.

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.

You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

Make each day your masterpiece.

John Wooden’s beloved wife of 53 years, and high school sweetheart, Nell, died on March 21, 1985. As his health allowed, on the 21st of every month Wooden visited Nell’s grave. And then he’d write her a love letter, place it in an envelope, and add it to the stack of letters he’d already written that laid upon her pillow. Reportedly, everything in John Wooden’s condo is precisely how Nell left it before she died.

Upon John Wooden’s death, his former star-player, Marques Johnson, said…

This is a tough time for everybody who loves Coach Wooden, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that for him, in his spiritual belief, death means he’s reunited with his beloved Nell. I’m sure he’d take a considerable amount of solace in that.

John Robert Wooden – a simple man, a lasting example…