#1577 Areté +1° #319: Wooden's Decades

Before He Won A Title

Hi, this is Brian.

Welcome back to another Areté +1°, a micro-chapter from our new book, Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential.

451 of my all-time favorite ideas. This is the second micro-chapter in the sixth Objective: Dominate Your Fundamentals.

It's called…


In our last +1°, we spent some time with John Wooden. We’re going to spend some more time with him today.

Wooden is one of my all-time favorite Heroes. In fact, his Heroic portrait is staring at me from my office wall as I type this— challenging me to do my best and make TODAY a masterpiece. (“I’m on it, Coach!”)

We discussed some of the details of his career. I’m going to repeat a few of them as we make a very important point.

First, recall that ESPN says he was the greatest coach of the twentieth century. The Sporting News named Wooden the “Greatest Coach of All Time.”

He’s also the ONLY person to ever be inducted into the NCAA Hall of Fame as BOTH a player AND as a Coach.


As we just discussed, Wooden coached for A LONG TIME before he won his first NCAA Championship.

More specifically, he coached at the collegiate level for SEVENTEEN (!) years before he won his first championship.


Get this…

Before he coached at the collegiate level, Wooden spent ELEVEN years coaching high school basketball. Then, during World War II in 1942 (at thirty-two years old), he joined the United States Navy. He served until 1946 and left as a lieutenant.

It was only after all that that he coached college basketball for another SEVENTEEN years before he won his first NCAA Championship in 1964.

He was fifty-four years old.

By that point, he had been coaching for nearly THREE DECADES.

I always find it helpful to remember that our heroes weren’t always the heroes we remember them as today.

Here’s what’s even more important for our purposes: Wooden didn’t focus on winning or losing.

OF COURSE he wanted to win, but he knew that the only way to have the best shot at the big outcome goals WHILE winning the ultimate game of life (RIGHT NOW!) was to focus ALL of his and his players’ energy on what was 100% within their control: their effort and their attitude.

That’s our +1°.

Remember: Our heroes gave their ENTIRE lives to their pursuit of mastery.


The greatest among them always kept their focus on winning the ULTIMATE game of life: showing up and doing their best.

Not someday.

But all day, every day.

Let’s make our heroes and ourselves proud as we move from Theory to Practice to Mastery Together…


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