Do Your Best

by Ray Reuter on June 7, 2010

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden passed away this past Friday.  One of the most profound things about John Wooden was the success he achieved without focusing on “winning.”  For Coach Wooden, winning (the outcome) was secondary to the effort.  His motto was, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to
 become the best that you are capable of becoming.”  It is a powerful reminder for me of the importance of paying attention to my actions and effort which I can control vs. the outcome which I often cannot control.

Coach Wooden retired as a basketball coach in 1975 – 35 years ago.  Yet it’s amazing how relevant John Wooden’s maxims, or “Woodenisms,” are a part of our culture today and continue to be rich with wisdom and inspiration.  Here are 10 gems that I particularly like and are great reminders for me (it was hard to narrow the list) …

  • “Never mistake activity for achievement.”
  • “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.
  • “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
  • “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.  I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
  • “It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.”
  • “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
  • “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
  • “It’s the little details that are vital.  Little things make big things happen.” (The spirit of Kaizen!)
  • “Talent is God given.  Be humble.  Fame is man-given.  Be grateful.  Conceit is self-given.  Be careful.”

Finally, Coach Wooden taught a simple “Seven Point Creed” given to him by his father Joshua upon his graduation from grammar school:

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Make each day your masterpiece.
  3. Help others.
  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 give thanks for your blessings every day.

    Thank you Coach for a wonderful life guide.  Now, let’s all GO DO OUR VERY BEST!

    It is worth checking out … Coach Wooden’s website  is

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