John Wooden retired seven years before I was born. I've observed the greatness of the likes of Bobby Cox and Phil Jackson as it unfolded, but not Mr. Wooden's. I can't speak as someone who watched him as he coached, because I didn't, and I can't speak as a UCLA fan, because I'm not. And yet, his quotes hold a place in my consciousness.
Quotes are dangerous things. By definition, they're reductive, hyper-simplistic, and usually pithy. That being said, John Wooden's brief segments of observations -- and he produced many of them -- are valuable.
Without further comment, I present my ten favorite quotes from a man who spent 29 years of his life guiding young people, and another 35 sharing what he learned.
10. The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.
9. If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.
8. Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.
7. Never mistake activity for achievement.
6. Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.
5. Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.
4. Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.
3. Ability is a poor man's wealth.
2. Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.
1. You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.