James Denney: Coach Wooden Book Summary





It took me a long time to understand that even a stubborn mule responds to gentleness.

Four things a man must learn to do if he wants to make his life true:

  • Think without confusion clearly
  • Love his fellow-man sincerely
  • Act from honest motives purely
  • Trust in God and Heaven securely.

Be true to yourself.

Help others.

Make each day your masterpiece.

Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.

Make friendship a fine art.

Build a shelter against a rainy day.

Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

You must know who you are and be true to who you are if you are going to be who you can and should become.

You cannot have a perfect day without helping others with no thought of getting something in return.

You have to apply yourself each day to become a little better.

If a player appeared to be taking it easy in practice, Wooden would tell him, “Don’t think you can make up for it by working twice as hard tomorrow. If you have it within your power to work twice as hard, why aren’t you doing it now?”

If you sincerely try to do your best to make each day a masterpiece, angels can do no better.

Drink deeply from those great books of your own choosing and you will enrich yourself.

Your faith, whatever it may be, is the greatest shelter of all.

So often we fail to acknowledge what we have because we’re so concerned about what we want.

It’s important to keep trying to do what you think is right no matter how hard it is or how often you fail. You never stop trying. I’m still trying.

Never believe you’re better than anybody else, but remember that you’re just as good as everybody else.

Very early we understood that there would be times when we disagreed but there would never be times when we had to be disagreeable.

Abraham Lincoln once said that the best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother.

The person you are is the person your child will become.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Character is what you really are. Reputation is what people say you are.

Make the effort to do the best you are capable of doing—in marriage, at your job, in the community, for your country.

Perfection is what you are striving for, but perfection is an impossibility. However, striving for perfection is not an impossibility. Do the best you can under the conditions that exist. That is what counts.

“I tell people I definitely believe in God,” Wooden writes. “I just hope God believes in me.”

There’s nothing wrong with having faults so long as you work conscientiously to correct them.

People want to believe you are sincerely interested in them as persons, not just for what they can do for you.

True happiness comes from the things that cannot be taken away from you.

Wooden believe that things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.

You have little say over how big or how strong or how smart or rich someone else may be. You do have, at least you should have, control of yourself and the effort you give toward bringing out your best in whatever you’re doing. This effort must be total, and when it is, Wooden believes you have achieved personal success.

Try your hardest in all ways and you are a success. Period. Do less than that and you have failed to one degree or another.

Preparation is where success is truly found.

A successful journey becomes your destination and is where your real accomplishment lies.

Likewise, in Wooden’s coaching, he informed every player who came under his supervision that the outcome of a game was simply a by-product of the effort they made to prepare.

You never fail if you know in your heart that you did the best of which you are capable. I did my best. That is all I could do.

You always win when you make the full effort to do the best of which you’re capable.

You can make mistakes, but you aren’t a failure until you start blaming others for those mistakes.

Do not become too concerned about what others may think of you. Be very concerned about what you think of yourself.

Goals should be difficult to achieve because those achieved with little effort are seldom appreciated, give little personal satisfaction, and are often not very worthwhile.

Mix idealism with realism and add hard work. This will often bring much more than you could ever hope for.

Understand there is a price to be paid for achieving anything of significance. You must be willing to pay the price.

The worthy opponent brings out the very best in you. This is thrilling.

Wooden told his athletes in basketball, “I don’t care if you are tall, but I do care if you play tall.” It’s just another way of saying that he judged them by the level of effort they gave to the team’s journey.

Perhaps you fret and think you can’t make a difference in the way things are. Wrong. You can make the biggest difference of all. You can change yourself. And when you do that you become a very powerful and important force—namely, a good role model.

Promise to give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

Don’t measure yourself by what you’ve accomplished, but rather by what you should have accomplished with your abilities.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Leadership is the ability to get individuals to work together for the common good and the best possible results while at the same time letting them know they did it themselves.

Develop a love for details. They usually accompany success.

The four laws of learning are explanation, demonstration, imitation, and repetition.

People learn more effectively if given information in bite-size amounts rather than everything all at once.

There’s a difference between the journey and the win.

Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

Big things are accomplished only through the perfection of minor details.





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