90 Motivational John Wooden Quotes for Success in Life

90 Motivational John Wooden Quotes for Success in Life

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John Wooden quotes
Image Credit: UCLA

The late John R. Wooden was a basketball player and coach regarded as one of the best. John had a great ability of grooming players not just to win on the court but more importantly in life.

He coached legends like Lewis Alcindor who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He became popular for his achievements at UCLA over 12 years where he won 10 NCAA championships.

In his book, Wooden on Leadership, he reveals the leadership tactics and philosophy he used to build championship winning teams.

Here are 90 of John’s quotes to inspire you to win big in life:

  1. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” ~ John Wooden
  2. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” ~ John Wooden
  3. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” ~ John Wooden
  4. “I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.” ~ John Wooden
  5. “Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.” ~ John Wooden
  6. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are.” ~ John Wooden
  7. “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” ~ John Wooden
  8. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” ~ John Wooden

  9. “To be an effective leader, make sure the people in your department know that they’re working with you, not for you.” ~ John Wooden
  10. “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” ~ John Wooden
  11. “Do not let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.” ~ John Wooden
  12. “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” ~ John Wooden
  13. “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” ~ John Wooden
  14. “Never mistake activity for achievement.” ~ John Wooden
  15. “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” ~ John Wooden
  16. “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” ~ John Wooden
  17. “Passion is momentary; love is enduring.” ~ John Wooden
  18. “Be prepared and be honest.” ~ John Wooden
  19. “Just do the best you can. No one can do more than that.” ~ John Wooden
  20. “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” ~ John Wooden
  21. “We can have no progress without change, whether it be basketball or anything else.” ~ John Wooden
  22. “What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.” ~ John Wooden

  23. “It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.” ~ John Wooden
  24. “Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.” ~ John Wooden
  25. “Teaching players during practices was what coaching was all about to me.” ~ John Wooden
  26. “All change may not be progress, but all progress is the result of change.” ~ John Wooden
  27. “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” ~ John Wooden
  28. “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.” ~ John Wooden
  29. “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” ~ John Wooden
  30. “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” ~ John Wooden
  31. “Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.” ~ John Wooden
  32. “The three key components of a good relationship between a leader and the team—friendship, loyalty and cooperation—can only be developed if the leader gives of himself or herself.” ~ John Wooden
  33. “I am just a common man who is true to his beliefs.” ~ John Wooden
  34. “Players with fight never lose a game, they just run out of time.” ~ John Wooden

  35. “Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.” ~ John Wooden
  36. “When we are patient, we’ll have a greater appreciation of our success.” ~ John Wooden
  37. “Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.” ~ John R. Wooden
  38. “Tell the truth. That way you don’t have to remember a story.” ~ John R. Wooden
  39. “Never try to be better than someone else. Learn from others, and try to be the best you can be.” ~ John R. Wooden
  40. “Set a realistic goal. Concentrate on its achievement by resisting all temptations and being determined and persistent.” ~ John R. Wooden
  41. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” ~ John R. Wooden
  42. “Be more concerned with what you can do for others than what others can do for you—you’ll be so surprised at the results.” ~ John R. Wooden
  43. “You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes.” ~ John R. Wooden

  44. “There is nothing stronger than gentleness.” ~ John R. Wooden
  45. “Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.” ~ John R. Wooden
  46. “If Lincoln could pray for the people who were opposing him, how much more can we do for someone we just find a little irritating?” ~ John R. Wooden
  47. “Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” ~ John R. Wooden
  48. “Good things take time, as they should. We shouldn’t expect good things to happen overnight.” ~ John R. Wooden
  49. “Nothing will work unless you do.” ~ John R. Wooden
  50. “Listen if you want to be heard.” ~ John R. Wooden
  51. “Consistent excellence can be achieved when we respect every opponent, but fear none.” ~ John R. Wooden
  52. “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” ~ John R. Wooden

  53. “Make every day your masterpiece.” ~ John R. Wooden
  54. “Happiness begins where selfishness ends.” ~ John R. Wooden
  55. “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” ~ John R. Wooden
  56. “It is amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.” ~ John R. Wooden
  57. “Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.” ~ John R. Wooden
  58. “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” ~ John R. Wooden
  59. “Success is the byproduct of preparation.” ~ John R. Wooden
  60. “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” ~ John R. Wooden
  61. “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” ~ John R. Wooden

  62. “Successful leadership is not about being tough or soft, sensitive or assertive, but about a set of attributes. First and foremost is character.” ~ John R. Wooden
  63. “Good values attract good people.” ~ John R. Wooden
  64. “Intensity makes you stronger. Emotionalism makes you weaker.” ~ John R. Wooden
  65. “I was built up from my dad more than anyone else.” ~ John R. Wooden
  66. “Discipline that uses shame, guilt or fear weakens people. Discipline that uses reason teaches and improves them.” ~ John R. Wooden
  67. “The most important thing in the world is family and love.” ~ John R. Wooden
  68. “Maintain discipline without being dictatorial. Be fair and lead rather than drive.” ~ John R. Wooden
  69. “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” ~ John R. Wooden
  70. “Earn the right to be proud and confident.” ~ John R. Wooden
  71. “Perform at your best when it’s required. Your best is required every day.” ~ John R. Wooden
  72. “Be yourself, don’t be thrown off by events whether good or bad.” ~ John R. Wooden
  73. “The strongest steel is well founded self-belief. It’s earned not given.” ~ John R. Wooden

  74. “The star of the team is the team. ‘We’ supercedes ‘Me’” ~ John R. Wooden
  75. “Your source of confidence shouldn’t stem from the competition you face. Your ability to believe in yourself comes from knowing that you’ve done absolutely everything you can to prepare for a challenge.” ~ John R. Wooden
  76. “The key to having a successful life and being a great leader is humility.” ~ John R. Wooden
  77. “I like to spend time in the past, with the things that have been important to me.” ~ John R. Wooden
  78. “True greatness by an individual can only be achieved when that person is competitively great, but also recognizes that only with the help of others can the team truly reach its potential.” ~ John R. Wooden
  79. “I don’t know any other way to lead but by example.” ~ John R. Wooden
  80. “You cannot antagonize and be a positive influence, and you will antagonize when you discipline through emotion.” ~ John R. Wooden

  81. “No one can really honestly be the very best, no one.” ~ John R. Wooden
  82. “One thing I never want to be accused of is not working.” ~ John R. Wooden
  83. “If you sacrifice principle trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.” ~ John R. Wooden
  84. “It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.” ~ John R. Wooden
  85. “It’s always about focusing not on the mistakes, but on the lessons learned from them. Never require repeated criticism for the same mistake.” ~ John R. Wooden
  86. “Focus on what you are doing right now to the best of your ability. Apply this wisdom in small doses throughout your day and by the end of it, you will have your masterpiece.” ~ John R. Wooden
  87. “A good starting point for creating balance in life is to focus on your faith, family and friends. Staying active in these 3 core areas is the key to living a beautiful life.” ~ John R. Wooden
  88. “Aim high, and always strive for your absolute best. If you challenge yourself every day, you’ll keep improving for years to come.” ~ John R. Wooden
  89. “Be completely impartial and show no favoritism, but remember that no two players are alike and that each must be treated according to his own individual personality.” ~ John R. Wooden
  90. “Listen to those under your supervision. Really listen. Don’t act as though you’re listening and let it go in one ear and out the other. Faking it is worse than not doing it at all.” ~ John R. Wooden



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