31 John Wooden Quotes on Success & Leadership in 2023

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What makes a great leader? And how does one achieve lasting success?

Today’s post features a collection of powerful quotes about leadership and success from one of the greatest leaders of all time.

John Wooden never held a political office, but as a basketball head coach for UCLA, he influenced and inspired many through his life and career.

He had the ability to bring out the best in every member of the basketball teams he coached. During the 12-year period that Wooden was head coach for the UCLA’s men’s basketball team, they won 10 NCAA championships.

Coach Wooden is a National Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, and recognized as one the greatest basketball coaches in history.

His quotes offer valuable lessons and wise counsel that are applicable not only in the game of basketball, but also in life.

The following collection of quotes features his powerful words about leadership and success. There are also motivational quotes from Coach Wooden in case you need that extra push to start moving forward again.

First, here is a collection of John Wooden leadership quotes. May they inspire you to embody the qualities of a great leader.

John Wooden Leadership Quotes

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.

Just try to be the best you can be; never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s in your power.

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A strong leader accepts blame and gives the credit. A weak leader gives blame and accepts the credit.” – John Wooden

Earn the right to be proud and confident.

Well, if you’re true to yourself you’re going to be true to everyone else.

You can do more good by being good than any other way.

It takes time to create excellence. If it could be done quickly, more people would do it.” – John Wooden

Listen if you want to be heard.

How would you describe a great leader?

There are at least six traits you need to observe in order to declare that someone is capable of taking a team to extraordinary heights. They must be:

  • Inspiring – Have the ability to inspire others by challenging them to give their best all the time
  • Honest – Possess a strong sense of ethics so no one can doubt their integrity
  • Empathic – Always shows genuine concern for team members; providing guidance to each one; and never assigns blame, but instead working on finding solutions
  • Decisive – Operate with the understanding that there are times when tough decisions have to be made, and making them without fear that these decisions will not please everybody
  • Accountable – Take responsibility for all team members’ actions and performance (including his/her own)
  • Focused – Have his/her eyes on the goal and apply all strategies and techniques to achieve the team’s objectives

(Good leaders like John Wooden know how to set goals. Having leadership SMART goals will ensure that both you and your team flourish.)

John Wooden showed these qualities (and more) in the 29 years that he was a basketball coach. He was known for paying very close attention to details, which contributed to the successes of the teams he mentored.

He also developed a Pyramid of Success. Through it, he identified the factors necessary for success in any endeavor.

For Coach Wooden, success equated to peace of mind. He constantly followed his own father’s advice about doing his best in everything that he did.

The following quotes illustrate what it takes to achieve success.

John Wooden Success Quotes

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.

Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. – John Wooden

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

Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.

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Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable. – John Wooden

Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.

Somebody asked me – you know, how come it took you so long to win a national championship? And I said, ‘I’m a slow learner; but you notice when I learn something, I have it down pretty good.

John Wooden was different from most coaches. While others talked about strategies for winning, Coach Wooden was focused on becoming the best version of himself, improving on his character, and cultivating self-awareness so that he always expressed his authentic self to his teams.

His players resonated with this authenticity, and Coach Wooden inspired them to give their best in every game.

May the following motivational quotes from John Wooden inspire you to rise above your own daily struggles and give your best when opportunity presents itself.

Motivational Quotes from John Wooden

Love is the most important thing in the world. Hate, we should remove from the dictionary.

The most important thing in the world is family and love.

There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer.

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The best competition I have is against myself to become better. – John Wooden

Tell the truth. That way you don’t have to remember a story.

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.

If there’s anything you could point out where I was a little different, it was the fact that I never mentioned winning.

I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.

Passion is momentary; love is enduring. – John Wooden

Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.

Although there is no progress without change, not all change is progress.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

In Closing

John Wooden was not just one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time—he was also a great teacher about life.

His words and actions reflect someone who put a lot of work into achieving self-awareness and shared this knowledge with the people around him. This is a wonderful legacy to leave to the world.

Do you have a favorite from among the quotes featured in this collection? We’d love to hear about it.

Moreover, if you love any of the images in today’s post, a share through your favorite social media platform would be greatly appreciated.

Lastly, if you can’t get enough quotes from well-known personalities throughout history, you might be interested in the following posts:

Finally, if you want to use these quotes to make a lasting change to your life, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's truly important to you..

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