John Wooden passed away in 2010. Even though his passing was expected, I was still saddened and reflective.

When I was in college, I cheered against UCLA basketball teams. I remember being at a party watching UCLA lose to Houston in the Astrodome, in what was labeled the “Game of the Century.” Those of you younger than me, likely don’t know that UCLA turned around and beat Houston 101-69 in the semi-final of the NCAA tournament. In law school, I continued to cheer against UCLA.

After law school I was stationed in Southern California with the United States Air Force. I learned that Coach Wooden was not only the most outstanding coach in college sports history, but that he was also a role model I would look up to the rest of his life.

I’ve read every book about Coach Wooden, including the one below. I’ve watched every video he made. You can find a website with his materials here.


I can think of no public figure who has influenced my life more profoundly than Coach Wooden. Funny thing, his impact had little to do with his many victories and national championships. His impact on me and thousands of others was based on how he lived based on his values.

I recite many of Coach Wooden’s famous quotes when I am working with lawyers. I am sure I don’t get them verbatim. They are just in my head. One of my favorite John Wooden quotes is:

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do

Andrea, an outstanding young partner in her firm recently sent me an email sharing what she had gotten out of the coaching. As you will see, John Wooden’s idea played a role in our coaching. She said the most important thing she got from the coaching was:

Encouraging me to develop my strengths instead of obsess about my many weaknesses.

Do you know what your strengths are? If not I urge you to buy StrengthsFinder 2.0 and take the on line test. When you discover your strengths take advice from Coach Wooden: Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. Instead, develop those strengths and go for it.