The Wooden Way: Make Each Day Your Masterpiece

John WoodenNo coach in history has influenced more leaders than John Wooden. The winner of ten national championships as UCLA’s basketball coach, Wooden’s success philosophy goes beyond sports and leaders from all walks of life have embraced the lessons he taught.

At the center of Wooden’s philosophy is one important rule that the legendary coach repeated often: Make each day your masterpiece


When I was teaching basketball, I urged my players to try their hardest to improve on that very day, to make that practice a masterpiece.

Too often we get distracted by what is outside our control.

You can’t do anything about yesterday. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away.

You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come.

However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today. So make today a masterpiece. You have control over that.

This rule is even more important in life than basketball. You have to apply yourself each day to become a little better. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better. Only then will you be able to approach being the best you can be.

It begins by trying to make each day count and knowing you can never make up for a lost day.

If a player appeared to be taking it easy in practice, I told him, “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?”

If you sincerely try to do your best to make each day a masterpiece, angels can do no better.


— John Wooden, from his book Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court

To achieve something great, you have to make today matter most.

It’s easy to get lost in the past and beat yourself up over what you wish you had done differently. It’s also easy to get lost in the future, dreaming about what you desire and wishing that it would get here faster.

But the fact is, success is a daily battle. You have to win today before you can think about winning tomorrow. You have to put in the work right now if you want to enjoy the larger victories later.

This is simple advice. We all know it’s true. Yet, it’s so easy to forget it. It’s so easy to get lost in the past or the future. It takes discipline, but you must remind yourself to make the most of today; it’s all you have.

As Michael Jordan famously said, “Championships are won while the stands are empty.”

The Warrior Mindset means attacking each day with joy and enthusiasm.

What can you do right now to make today a success? What can you do this day to bring yourself much closer to your biggest goals? What can you do to make today your masterpiece?