John Wooden as Role Model

Having celebrated and thought about the family men in my life yesterday, I remembered that our Los Angeles icon John Wooden had once been described as a “walking Father’s Day card.”

His philosophy of life – as well as his entire persona – exemplified everything we could wish for as a role model for our children. We were fortunate to be able see him here, on occasion, during the years of his retirement from basketball. He was an accessible fixture in our community – breakfasting at a local diner, speaking to the staff for his birthday lunches at our community hospital, signing books full of his wisdom at UCLA. My older son attended the Wooden basketball camp as a teenager, learning fundamentals, teamwork and good sportsmanship as well as soaking up the home-grown aphorisms that Coach was eager to share.

Looking back over his sayings, it’s clear that they don’t relate only to competitive athletes but rather to all of us who strive for a life of value and meaning. Always the teacher, here are some of Wooden’s motivational thoughts through the years:

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.

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

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

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.

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

Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful.

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

Can these sound bites form a solid foundation for some of the lessons you want to impart to your own children? This week we’ll look at how John Wooden and other sports figures can serve as role models and set the tone for your own parenting.

And if you’d like to read about some other contemporary figures who can be role models for you and your family, join our free newsletter email list and receive a complimentary copy of Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals.

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