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Growing up as a very active athlete in the Southern California area one of my favorite teams to watch was the UCLA Bruins men's basketball team. I even had the privilege of attending a week long basketball camp on the campus hosted by the UCLA coaching staff. I remember when I was there the way people at UCLA would speak of Coach John Wooden, he was held in such high esteem by all. He was revered, loved, respected and admired, and not just as a coach, but as a man.

As I grew up my father would buy me books to read that showcased great coaches and athletes, and focused on their attitudes, beliefs, and determination to give their best everyday. As I read the books about John Wooden it was so clear that he was not just a basketball coach, he was a life coach. To his players, to his family, to his friends, and to all of us that want to learn from his lessons.

Thus in this article I want to highlight some of those great life lessons that Coach John Wooden passed along to us during his lifetime.

-Time lost is time lost. It's gone forever. Thus, people should always do their best. If they can work twice as hard tomorrow, then they should have worked twice as hard today, because that would have been their best. Catching up leaves no room for them to do their best tomorrow. Those who are putting off and then working twice as hard later are just cheating themselves from being their best tomorrow.

-Try to read and learn something new every day. Stay on top of, and ahead of your game, so that you can operate to the best of your abilities. Do the best you can with what you have. Don't stand still. Always try to move forward. Keep learning so you can function as well as you are capable of functioning. Then whatever comes out of that comes out of that, and will be a by-product of always striving to be the best you can be.

-"Love" is the greatest word in our language. When we have love, many of our problems disappear. We can give without loving, but we can't love without giving.

-Don't let making a living prevent you from making a life. People don't spend enough time with their families. They get caught up in material things, thinking those make up life. Don't allow the lesser values to raise havoc on your family.

-God is far greater than I am and to see that I must accept His actions, even if I do not understand them at the time.

-There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness.

-There is a verse by Henry Van Dyke that John Wooden always carried with him on a note card: "Four things a man must learn to do, If he would make his life more true: To think without confusion clearly, To love his fellow-man sincerely, To act from honest motives purely, To trust in God and Heaven securely."

-On the other side of his note card was the seven point creed his Dad had taught him to live by: "1. Be true to yourself. 2. Help others. 3. Make each day your masterpiece. 4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible. 5. Make friendship a fine art. 6. Build a shelter against a rainy day. 7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day."

-"Balance" is one of the most important parts of life. We must always keep things in perspective so that we can maintain emotional control.

-John Wooden's formula for success: "Don't lie. Don't cheat. Don't steal. Don't whine. Don't complain. Don't make excuses."

-If you never lie, you'll never have to remember what you said.

-Never stop trying to do what's right. And don't do the right thing to earn favor with God or anyone else, do it because it is the right thing to do.

-Doing our best really does define success. Never try to be better than somebody else. Always learn from others and never cease trying to be the best you can be.
The most important profession in the world is parenting. The second is teaching, and everyone is a teacher to someone.

-The more concerned we become over the things we can't control, the less we will do with the things we can control. Abraham Lincoln said "We'd all be much happier if we magnified our blessings rather than our disappointments."

-A leader's most powerful ally is his or her own example. There is hypocrisy to the phrase "Do as I say, not as I do." You should refuse to make demands on others that you are not willing to live out in your own life. Leadership from a hypocrisy undermines respect, and if people don't respect you, they won't willingly follow you.

-You must have the drive to develop your abilities and become the best you can be so that you'll be ready. You must be prepared when your chance comes. Because if you are not primed, you will miss your opportunity. You have to think as if you are going to get one shot, so you must be ready.

-Find your Olympic spirit of competition, but for the sake of competition, not for the -outcome of winning and losing. Put your sights on the desire to excel, not on the outcome. Be fiercely competitive, however the best competition is against yourself – to become better.

-It is more blessed to give than to receive. There is always great joy in learning that something you've said or done has been meaningful to another, especially when you do it without any thought of receiving anything in return. Your gift doesn't have to be material as a smile, a nod, a pat on the back all warms the heart.

-Don't use foul or abusive language. Make your words be an encouragement to those who hear them to be good and helpful.

-Don't consider yourself superior to anyone else, but never feel inferior.

-Always keep your word. "Later's", "until's", "if's" and "when's" are really nothing more than "but's" – don't let yours keep you from keeping your promises.

-We shouldn't compare ourselves to others. We get in trouble when we start trying to measure up to someone else. We should focus on striving to become the best we are capable of becoming.

-Happiness comes from the things that cannot be taken away from you. Appreciate the things that last, especially faith, family and friends.

-Never encourage anyone to pray for a win. Our prayers should not be directed to the scores on the boards. That seems way too selfish. Honor God by doing your best, controlling your emotions, and asking for protection.

-God hears all of our prayers and answers them, but sometimes the right answer is No.
There is a wonderful axiom about the three things most people really want out of life: happiness, freedom and peace of mind. Interestingly, these things are usually attained when we give them away.

-The smallest good deed is better than the best intention. Lots of people talk it, but they don't walk it. You should always try to act upon your intentions.

-Your individual strength of character will shape how you react to both praise and criticism. If you let either one affect you, it will affect you adversely.

-No matter how tall you might be, don't ever look down on anyone.
Be thankful for what you have. Be appreciative. Don't ever think "why did this happen to me?" but instead count your blessings every day.

-Wake up each day and tell yourself "this is going to be a good day!"

-You can't antagonize people and then expect to get positive results.

-Criticism and correction differ, especially when it comes to methods and motives. Criticism puts someone down. Correction means I want to help. Be slow to correct and quick to commend. No one likes correction, but we learn from it. If we commend before we correct, the person will accept the correction better. And don't ever give correction in a way where the other loses face. Only make corrections after you have proved to the individual that you highly value them, because if they know you care the correction won't be seen as a judgment.

-If we listen to others, they will be more apt to listen to us.

-If we are ever through learning, then we are through. You either have to go forward or you'll go backward. Learn as if you are going to live forever, but you ought to live as if you're going to die tomorrow.

-The worst thing you can do for the ones you love are the things they could and should do for themselves. If people are hungry, give them fish. But after they have eaten, teach them how to fish. Don't keep giving them fish. That makes them dependent on you for their food. It's never good to take away anyone's independence.

-Failure is not fatal, but failure to change can be.

-The person who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.

-You are never a failure if you gave it your all, unless you blame others for your mistakes. When you place blame, you're making excuses; when you're making excuses, you can't evaluate yourself; and without self-evaluation, failure is inevitable.

-Time spent getting even would be better spent getting ahead.

-Harboring thoughts of revenge is a bad thing. Forgiveness is much better. We can choose to forgive. When we do that, it sets us free.

-It would be a dull monotonous world if we all agreed on everything, but we should never be disagreeable just because we disagree.

-Lastly; "Success is peace of mind as a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming – in all areas of life."

These are words to live by. Words to be studied and more importantly applied in your life. These lessons will not only help you live a more fulfilled, happy life but all those around you as well. The more we can learn from the examples Coach John Wooden gave us, the more we can become teachers in our own right.

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