John Wooden and His Pyramid of Success


John Wooden and His Pyramid of Success

Have you ever wondered if there’s a relation between basketball and achieving success? John Wooden, a retired American basketball coach has made the connection through his famous “Pyramid of Success”.

Pyramids are known to be the most stable shape because of its strong foundation at its base. John Wooden used this analogy to describe the components in achieving success which is applicable not only in the field of basketball but also to almost any endeavor in life.

According to his Pyramid of Success, there are five main traits which consist of the foundation to climb success. These are Industriousness, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation, and Enthusiasm. These five traits are positioned in such a way that Industriousness and Enthusiasm are the two cornerstones of the pyramid. As John Wooden says: “The first two blocks of the pyramid are the two cornerstones because to be strong, you have to have a strong foundation.”

Let’s examine the base of the pyramid of success as what John Wooden teaches us:

Industriousness. There is no substitute for work. Worthwhile things come from hard work and careful planning. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Or failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick, no easy way.

Enthusiasm. Your heart must be in your work. Stimulate others. Look for your passion and develop it more. If you are enjoying what you are doing, you won’t easily feel tired. Your energy and enjoyment, drive and dedication will stimulate and greatly inspire others.

Friendship. It comes from mutual esteem, respect, and devotion. A sincere liking for all. Strive to build a team filled with camaraderie and respect: comrades-in-arms.

Loyalty. Be true to yourself. Be true to those you lead. Keep your self-respect to yourself and all those dependent upon you.

Cooperation. Have utmost concern for what’s right rather than who’s right. Cooperate with all levels of your co-workers. Help others and see the other side.

Now we go one step up in the Pyramid of Success and we can find Self-Control, Alertness, Initiative, and Intentness:

Self-Control. Control of your organization begins with the control of yourself. Be disciplined and set as an example. Emotions should be under control. Delicate adjustment between mind and body. Keep judgment and common sense.

Alertness. Constantly be aware and observing. Be quick to spot a weakness and correct it or use it as the case may warrant. Always seek to improve yourself and the team.

Initiative. Make a decision! Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all. Cultivate the ability to make decisions and think alone. Desire to excel.

Intentness. Stay on the course and resist temptation. When thwarted, try again; harder, smarter! Persevere relentlessly. Concentrate on your objective and be determined to reach your goal.

We now go one step up again with Condition, Skill, and Team Spirit.

Condition. Ability may get you to the top but character keeps you there – mental, moral, and physical.

Skill. A knowledge of and the ability to properly execute the fundamentals. Be prepared. Cover every detail.

Team Spirit. An eagerness to sacrifice personal interests or glory for the welfare of all. The team comes first. The star of the team is the team, not you. ‘We’ supersedes ‘Me’.

Another one step up the Pyramid of Success are Poise and Confidence.

Poise. Be yourself. Don’t be thrown off by events, whether good or bad. Be at ease in any situation. Don’t fight yourself.

Confidence. it comes from faith in yourself in knowing that you are prepared. The strongest steel is well-founded self-belief. It is earned, not given.

Finally, at the summit of the Pyramid of Success is Competitive Greatness.

Competitive Greatness. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Be at your best when your best is needed. Your best is needed each day. Real love is a hard battle.

What if you still lose? No worries because as long as you gave all your best effort, you should have a peace of mind. As John Wooden says: “Success is a peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable of.”


Tyrone is a passionate financial literacy advocate. He started this blog on November 2008 when he watched The Secret which talked about Law of Attraction because he wanted to become a millionaire and wanted to know how a millionaire acts. At the age of 26, he achieved his first million. To find out more about him, click here or follow him at Instagram

3 responses on “John Wooden and His Pyramid of Success

  1. John Wooden was such an inspirational man. Not to mention he is probably the greatest coach in all of sports. He also wrote some good books. My favorite Wooden basketball quote, “Be quick but don’t hurry”.

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