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Wooden Summary – John Wooden and Steve Jamison

Wooden, by Wooden

Wooden, by Wooden

“Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court”
John Wooden and Steve Jamison

238 pages – Paperback | eBook

This book summary is part of an ongoing project to summarise ~35 books on Mindset - for more, see the full reading list.

TYPE: Non-fiction (philosophy), practical.

SYNTHESIS: An effort-and-integrity focussed personal philosophy – spanning family, achievement, success and excellence – by UCLA’s famous philosopher-coach, John Wooden, and author, Steve Jamison.

IN A NUTSHELL: “Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

NOTES: Wooden’s Wooden is a collection of 215 thoughts (each a few sentences to as many pages in length), split across 4 parts:

  • Part 1: Families, Values, Virtues (53 thoughts)
  • Part 2: Success, Achievement, Competition (74 thoughts)
  • Part 3: Coaching, Teaching, Leading (66 thoughts)
  • Part 4: Putting It All Together: My Pyramid Of Success (22 thoughts)

There’s a lot of timeless wisdom here, though little that would surprise you and nothing you can’t or won’t have read elsewhere.

Honesty, ego, stoicism, authenticity, continuous learning, presence, areté and a focus on process over outcome are among Wooden’s favourite themes. 

Success and happiness, he reminds us, are neither rare nor magical. They are the result of hard, patient and persistent work on ourselves, for the benefit of others.

If you’re looking for quick, tactical tricks to make practice more purposeful, Wooden’s observations (at least in this book) may leave you frustrated.

But if you’re looking for a compass to guide you through life’s challenges and temptations;

If you could use an All-American Aurelius to elevate and inspire you; 

Then Wooden would be a valuable addition to any bookshelf.


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

“Don’t whine. Don’t complain. Don’t make excuses.”

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

“I agree with Abraham Lincoln. He once said that the best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother.”

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

“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.”

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

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

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