John Wooden lived 99 2/3 years and is considered by many to be the greatest coach in history. His teams at UCLA won ten of 12 national championships, 88 games in a row, and he was a 3 time all American in college, once sinking 134 foul shots in a row. His players loved him and he developed several systems for success. After reading his book published shortly before what would have been his 100th birthday on October 14, 2010, I figured I could learn much from him.

Here are some of the things I learned. He kept good records. His father gave him a note card with suggestions. He attributes much of his success to his father. His father gave him 7 suggestions to follow and he has tried to live up to it every day of his life. Be true to yourself. Help others. Make each day your masterpiece. Read good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build for a rainy day. Be thankful for blessings each day. I liked better what his father gave him in three rules: Don't whine. Don't complain, don't make excuses.

He loved teaching. And I like the little fellow poem that guided him in his relations with his 3 kids and his students.

        A careful man I  want to be                                            
        A little fellow follows me                                             
        I dare not go astray                                                 
        for fear he'll go the self same way                                  
        I cannot once escape his eyes                                    
        What he sees me do, he tries.                                     
        Like me he says he's going to be.                                    
        The little chap who follows me.                                   
        He thinks that I am good and fine.                                   
        Believes in every word of mine                                      
        the base in me he must not see                                     
        the little chap who follows me                                    
        I must remember as I go                                            
        Through summer's sun and winter's snow.                              
        I am building for the years to be                                    
        that little chap who follows me.

He was married to his college sweetheart Nellie for 60 years and she came to every game he coached. Apparently he never earned more than 50000 a year, and he often turned down jobs that would have paid him much more because he had given his word and he never wished to tell a lie.

His pyramid of success is famous. It has at the bottom hard work, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and enthusiasm then goes up to self control alertness action and determination. Then fitness skill term spirit poise confidence personal best.

How would I apply these things to markets? I like the never complaining and never boasting. The hard work, and loyalty and enthusiasm. The attributes of the pyramid of success would seem to be good for any activity.

His humility is a good model for all who wish to achieve success. He didn't have his hand out for money and went beyond the dollar and the clock The fact that he was such a good player must have made him a great coach. Apparently he had every minute of every workout planned. And he insisted on it being a team game rather than a forum for a star. I guess that's a bit easier when you have Alcindor and Walton on your squad.

I would have liked to know more about his day to day life and how that suited him to live to 100 and be loved by so many. Certainly the philosophy of life must and the pyramid of success much have had much to do with it.

He took losing very well, and always felt sorry for the teams that he beat.

I can't find anything that needs much improvement in his life as a model for a teacher, father, or speculator.

Charles Pennington writes: 

I thought the Chair disliked cooperative games like soccer and (I presume) basketball. What's the story there?

Fred Crossman writes: 

Never did I want to call the first time-out during a game. Never. It was almost a fetish with me because I stressed conditioning to such a degree. I wanted UCLA to come out and run our opponents so hard that they would be forced to call the first time-out just to catch their breath. I wanted them to have to stop the running before we did. At that first time-out, the opponent would know, and we would know they knew, who was in better condition.

He never called a time out at the end of the game either. Sat there with his program rolled up most of the game for he believed UCLA was better prepared mentally, too. His players knew exactly what to do. Confusion and pressure at the end of the game was their ally.


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