70 John Wooden Quotes on Excellence and Success

If you need some words that will push you to persevere and be the best, then these John Wooden quotes are for you.

John Wooden was an American basketball coach and player known for being the Wizard of Westwood. Ever since he was a player, Wooden has been famous for his skills and talent in basketball. Moreover, when he started his coaching career, he led his team to successful games full of awards and championships.

Indeed, John Wooden will forever be remembered as an exceptional basketball player and coach. But more than that, he was also a wise person who inspired and encouraged everyone he met. 

So, make sure to check out this collection of John Wooden quotes that will inspire you in life. Read the complete list below and remember to apply it in reaching your goals.

Let’s get started.

And don’t forget to check out these basketball quotes and Phil Jackson quotes.

Best John Wooden Quotes

1. “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

2. “Never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s in your power.”

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

4. “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make makes you.”

5. “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

6. “All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.”

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

8. “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

9. “Winning takes talent. To repeat takes character.”

10. “You can’t make good decisions that are going to be meaningful, productive when you lose control, and you have to maintain mental control, emotional control and to be able to perform physically up to your own particular level of competency, you have to keep your emotions under control.”

11. “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.” 

12. “We can have no progress without change, whether it be basketball or anything else.”

13. “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

14. “Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”

John Wooden Quotes That’ll Inspire You in Life

15. “Today is the only day. Yesterday’s gone.”

16. “Learn as if you were going to live forever, and live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”

17. “You can never make up for a lost day. 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?”

18. “Constantly be aware and observing. Always seek to improve yourself and the team.”

19. “Stay the course. When thwarted, try again, harder, smarter. Persevere relentlessly.”

20. “It takes time to create excellence. If it could be done quickly, more people would do it.”

21. “I think you have to be what you are. Don’t try to be somebody else. You have to be yourself at all times.”

22. “It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.”

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

24. “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

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

26. “If you are afraid to fail, you will never do the things you are capable of doing.”

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

Also read: Encouraging Quotes, Inspirational Quotes

John Wooden Quotes on Success

28. “Success is never final. Failure is never fatal, and it’s courage that counts.”

29. “Never try to be better than someone else. Learn from others, and try to be the best you can be. Success is the by-product of that preparation.”

30. “You will find that success and attention to detail, the smallest details, usually go hand in hand.”

Also read: Bob Knight Quotes, Mike Krzyzewski Quotes

John Wooden Quotes to Live By

31. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

32. “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”

32. “Never lie, never cheat, never steal.”

34. “Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.”

35. “Have utmost concern for what’s right rather than who’s right.”

36. “Never mistake activity for achievement.” 

37. “Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to.”

38. “Just do the best you can. No one can do more than that.”

Also read: Quotes to Live By, Positive Quotes

Short John Wooden Quotes That Are Full of Meaning

39. “The best competition I have is against myself, to become better.”

40. “Nothing will work unless you do.”

41. “Earn the right to be proud and confident.”

42. “If I am through learning, I am through.”

43. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

44. “It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.”

45. “Young people need models, not critics.”

46. “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

47. “Happiness begins where selfishness ends.”

John Wooden Quotes That Are Packed With Wisdom

48. “Set a realistic goal. Concentrate on its achievement by resisting all temptations and being determined and persistent.”

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

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

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

52. “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”

53. “Well, your greatest joy definitely comes from doing something for another, especially when it was done with no thought of something in return.”

54. “If you sacrifice principle trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.”

55. “Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.”

56. “The important things to me are your faith, your family, and your friends. If you have that, you have everything.”

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

58. “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

59. “If you stay intent and your ability warrants it, you will eventually reach the top of the mountain.”

60. “Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord because He knows what we really are, and that is all that matters.”

John Wooden Quotes on Leadership and Teamwork

61. “The leader has to command the respect of all those under his supervision, and he must be open to those under his supervision. Effective leadership means having a lot of people working toward a common goal. And when you have that with no one caring who gets the credit, you’re going to accomplish a lot. If you have those just wanting the credit for themselves, you’re not going to get as much accomplished.”

62. “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.”

63. “Knowledge is not enough to get desired results. You must have the more elusive ability to teach and to motivate. This defines a leader. If you can’t teach and you can’t motivate, you can’t lead.”

64. “I had three rules for my players: no profanity, don’t criticize a teammate, never be late.”

65. “Many leaders don’t listen, and it is one of the greatest methods we have of learning. You need to listen to those under your supervision and to those who are above you.”

More John Wooden Quotes to Develop Your Attitude

66. “Remember this, the choices you make in life, make you.”

67. “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”

68. “You must be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.”

69. “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them, and your foes won’t believe them.”

70. “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

Do You Give Your All When You’re Working for Your Dreams?

The road to success is never an easy path. We must never forget that effort, perseverance, and strength are the keys to reaching our dreams.

This is especially applicable in life, where our good character and morals shape the person we’ll turn into in the future. Like how John Wooden lived by his values, we must consistently work hard in whatever endeavor we pursue. He never gave up and never lost hope in trying to push himself to be the best.

We may think that we cannot do what John Wooden did, but there is no harm in trying. Every day, we can strive to succeed and excel in our passions. We can always choose to work harder and be stronger in life, no matter the circumstance.

Hopefully, these quotes were able to fire you up and motivate you to accomplish your goals. Remember John Wooden’s words, and keep them in your mind whenever you feel like giving up.

Which John Wooden quote is your favorite? Are you a fan of John Wooden? Leave a comment below.

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

With the many places I’ve been to, I found that love, inspiration, and happiness are some things that bring people together. No matter how different we are on the outside, I’m a true believer that our emotions don’t lie; if you dig deep into our psyche, we’re all the same inside.

This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

We take from each others’ hearts and courage, and it’s through our individual experiences that we learn how to rise above our challenges and pain. In so many ways, Quote Ambition is a platform that allows people from all over the world to gain the inspiration they need anytime, anywhere!

You can find me on MuckRack and LinkedIn.