John Wooden-Inspirational Leadership Series

Doug Staneart  |  October 14, 2015
last updated

Winning a single NCAA Basketball Tournament is one of the most difficult achievements in all sports because it is a single-elimination tournament where the top 68 teams in the NCAA have to win every single game, or their season is over. Only one of the 68 teams will be crowned champion at the end of the tournament, and 67 other teams will go back to their respective schools thinking, “Woulda, shoulda, coulda.” So, to win the tournament just one time is quite an accomplishment, and to win a second, consecutive time, is so challenging that only seven schools have ever won back-to-back championships. So, when UCLA won 10 NCAA tournaments in a 12 year period including a remarkable seven years in a row, the results were stunning! John Wooden was the beloved coach of UCLA during this time period, and, outside of UCLA during the Wooden era, no other team in the 70+ years of the NCAA tournament has won the tournament three times in a row, but John Wooden’s team won it seven times in a row! So, what made Wooden’s teams so different? Many experts believe that Wooden’s Pyramid of Success philosophy was key. (Access a printable version of Wooden’s Pyramid of Success from his website,

John Wooden was the coach at UCLA from 1948 to 1975, and in that time, UCLA won over 80% of all of their games. From 1971 to 1973, Wooden’s UCLA team went an amazing 89-1. Wooden coached some of the all-time great basketball stars including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, and his influence on these stars went well beyond the basketball court.

In addition to his success in sports, Wooden is also know for his short inspirational messages that have often been quoted by coaches, writers, motivational speakers, and Successory posters for decades. Below is a list of some of his most famous John Wooden quotes (Woodenisms) in both graphical and textual form.

Inspirational John Wooden Quotes

These inspirational John Wooden quotes (Woodenisms) have been gathered by a number of sources including

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author Doug Staneart
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Doug Staneart is president of The Leader's Institute ®. He is based in the Dallas, Texas Region. He is a specialist in corporate team building activities and custom presentation skills seminars.
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