QUICK HITS: Definition of Success, John Wooden

In this TED Talk, John Wooden, the late UCLA Men’s Basketball Coach, speaks about his definition of success: piece of mind only attained through self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable.


His definition of success, as well as one of his guiding principles, is based upon never trying to be better than someone else. Rather, we should all focus on pursuing the best we can possibly be. Among the many teaching points Coach Wooden makes, here are some bits that stood out:

  • “If you get involved in things in which you have no control, it will adversely affect the things you can control.”
  • Patience is critical in everything.
  • “You can lose when you outscore somebody, and you can win when you’re outscored…when you see someone who didn’t know the outcome of the game, I hope they can’t tell whether you outscored the opponent or they outscored you.”
  • As a coach, don’t focus primarily on the score. The score of the game should be the byproduct of other things.
  • “Never cease being the best you can be.”
  • Great value is placed on reaching, or coming close to reaching, one’s full potential.
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