John Wooden’s 8 Rules for Success

John WoodenLegendary basketball coach John Wooden had an insatiable desire to learn and he took the study of success very seriously. He spent several years coming up with what he felt was a proper definition of success.

Based on his experiences as an athlete, coach, and teacher, Wooden defined success this way: “Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

After he was satisfied with his definition of success, Wooden then spent many more years coming up with his system for achieving success. He would eventually refer to his success system as the Pyramid of Success, which consisted of seventeen meticulously-researched building blocks.

In 1997, Wooden boiled down his success philosophy to a simple list of eight rules. Of course, being the humble leader John Wooden was, he referred to this list not as ironclad rules for success, but instead what he called, “eight suggestions for succeeding.”

Here they are…


1- Fear no opponent. RESPECT every opponent.

2- Remember, it’s the perfections of the smallest details that make big things happen.

3- Keep in mind that hustle makes up for many a mistake.

4- Be more interested in character than reputation.

5- Be quick, but don’t hurry.

6- Understand that the harder you work, the more luck you will have.

7- Know that valid self-analysis is crucial for improvement.

8- Remember that there is no substitute for hard work and careful planning. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.


— John Wooden, from his book (with Steve Jamison) Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court

The above eight rules serve as the foundation for success in any endeavor.

Whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, apply these eight rules and you will succeed just as Wooden defined it.