Former UCLA basketball coach gives motivational talk

Thursday, October 3, 2002

The "Pyramid of Success" is not merely the basis for John Wooden's basketball triumphs -- it's also the way he has tried to live his life.

It's a message with themes like hard work, loyalty, poise and confidence that Wooden -- considered the most successful college coach of all time -- shared with a group of Cape Girardeau businesspeople Wednesday.

"To me, success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of knowing you did your best at being the best you can become," said Wooden, 91, and now a motivational speaker. "Not that you can become perfect. We're all imperfect creatures."

Wooden, who led UCLA to 10 NCAA championships in 12 years from 1967-1973, shared his "Pyramid of Success" via a teleconference at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center. The event was sponsored by Big River Telephone.

Wooden went over his "Pyramid of Success," with the group -- tenets and beliefs he said he learned from his father and helped him become who he is.

From a foundation of hard work, friendship and loyalty, a good business can be built on initiative, team spirit, conditioning, and confidence on the way to competitive greatness, Wooden said.

Wooden knows about competitive greatness. During his reign, he coached Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he was known as Lew Alcindor and coached UCLA to a record 88-game winning streak that finally ended in 1974, despite the presence of college great Bill Walton. Wooden was known as the "Wizard of Westwood."

He said that hard work is probably the most important and that worthwhile results only come from hard work and careful planning. He also cautioned against losing focus.

"We can get lost in our own egos and tunnel vision," he said. "But there are always things going on around you and paying attention is how you learn."

He also advised mental, moral and physical conditioning, and said to keep faith that goals will be met. Wooden said confidence is also important.

"If you're not prepared, you can't have confidence," he said. "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."

Kevin Cantwell, the president of Big River, said they hope to host similar seminars in the future, bringing in other coaches of various sporting events. The series will be titled "Coaching for Business Success."

"We were able to get advice from the greatest basketball coach in the history of basketball," Cantwell said. "That doesn't happen every day."

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