John Wooden, affectionately known as Coach, led UCLA to record wins that are still unmatched in the world of basketball. Throughout his long life, he shared the values and life lessons he passed to his players, emphasizing success that’s about much more than winning.

Why you should listen

Born in 1910, Coach John Wooden was the first person to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a player and coach, while ESPN ranks him as the greatest coach of all time, across all sports. In his 40 years at UCLA, he mentored legends such as Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He has created a model, the Pyramid of Success, and authored several books to impart his insight on achievement to others.

Coach wanted his players to be victors in life and not just on the court, so he treated them as an extended family and emphasized that winning was more than scoring. Indeed, most of his inspiring theories were born from conversations with his father, as a boy on their farm in Indiana. One that sums up his ideology quite well is his often-quoted definition of success: "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming."

What others say

“Coach Wooden is a humble, private man who has selflessly given up his life to make other people’s lives better ... John Wooden gave us the necessary tools to overcome the adversity and obstacles that he knew from the beginning would always be in our way. He taught us to find a source of motivation to inspire us to ever higher levels of preparation and work.” — Bill Walton

John Wooden’s TED talk

More news and ideas from John Wooden

John R. Wooden Awards announced

April 17, 2009

A week ago today, the John R. Wooden Award was given to the best college basketball players of the year. Back in 2001, Coach Wooden (the namesake of the award and former UCLA basketball coach) gave a touching TEDTalk which proved why he is so revered and respected in the basketball and academic communities. The […]

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How John Wooden changed my life: Exclusive interview with Steve Jamison

March 26, 2009

Steve Jamison has co-authored five books with John Wooden, produced a documentary about him, and is consultant to his leadership program at UCLA. All this came about after one fateful meeting, for an innocuous interview. Coach Wooden has influenced the lives of many, and he discusses his inspirational philosophy on personal success in today’s heartwarming […]

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The real difference between success and winning: Coach John Wooden on

March 26, 2009

With profound simplicity, Coach John Wooden redefines success and urges us all to pursue the best in ourselves. In this inspiring talk from TED2001, he shares the advice he gave his players at UCLA, quotes poetry and remembers his father’s wisdom. (Recorded at TED2001, February 2001, in Monterey, California. Duration: 17:36.) Watch Coach John Wooden’s […]

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