John R. Wooden’s Pyramid of Success

John R. Wooden's Pyramid of Success - Fit2B.comWhat factors feed into a successful, consistent exercise plan? I’ve had a print copy of John R. Wooden’s Pyramid of Success since my second year in college at OSU where I received my bachelor’s degree in Exercise & Sport Science. It was handed out to me one sleepy morning in the lecture hall of my “Psychosocial Dimensions of Sport & Physical Activity” class.

John Robert Wooden won ten NCAA national championships — seven of them in a row — in a 12-year period as head coach at University of California, Las Angeles. He was raised on a farm in southern Indiana, and he still ranks first in the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Final Four appearances.

“Pa Wooden” is what his basketball athletes called their head coach emeritus at UCLA, and his pyramid, which I’ve had taped up inside a cupboard in my home office — okay, it’s my kitchen — for years, is still widely respected for how it addresses all 6 dimensions of wellness. Just recently I realized how much my mind wanders to them as I help others {and myself} stay motivated to succeed.

John R. Wooden's Pyramid of Success - Fit2B.comDon’t worry, I’ll translate my notes and the tiny print on the sides in a moment, but first a question: Do you think there are similarities between people who exercise at home and professional athletes? Can the formula for succeeding with consistent exercise be similar to the formula for training an athlete?

My college professor was so animated as she took us through these charts (see the other one below) and she laid many transparencies on the projector — remember, this was the year 1998 — with quotes from John R. Wooden which I hastily scribbled down as you can see. In my opinion, most of them speak to all people exercising everywhere, especially this one:

John R. Wooden's Pyramid of Success - Fit2B.comWooden’s Pyramid of Success had five key things on the base layer and narrowed to “Faith (through prayer) and Patience (good things take time)” at the very top, crowning the main goal: Competitive Greatness. This he defined as being at your best when your best is needed and enjoyment of a difficult challenge.

As a work-at-home mom who gets most of my exercise around my home, just that top section alone is so relatable to my world! It’s also relatable to my athleticism as a competitive race walker. Let me know what you think as you read through the rest of the pyramid below:

The Base Layer of John R. Wooden’s Pyramid

Industriousness — There is no substitute for work. Worthwhile results come from hard work and careful planning.

Friendship — Comes from mutual esteem, respect and devotion. Like marriage, it must not be taken for granted but requires a joint effort. {click here to listen to a Fit2B podcast on leveraging friendship to help your fitness}

Loyalty — To yourself and to all those depending upon you. Keep your self-respect.

Cooperation —With all levels of your co-workers. Listen if you want to be heard. Be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.

Enthusiasm — Brushes off upon those with whom you come in contact. You must truly enjoy what you are doing.

The 2nd Layer of Wooden’s Pyramid

Self-Control — Practice self-discipline and keep emotions under control. Good judgement and common sense are essential.

Alertness — Be observing constantly. Stay open-minded. Be eager to learn and improve.

Initiative — Cultivate the ability to make decisions and think alone. Do not be afraid of failure, but learn from it.

Intentness — Set a realistic goal. Concentrate on its achievement by resisting all temptations and being determined and persistent.

This second layer of four blocks is sandwiched by two words that summarize and expand on this layer: Ambition (for noble goals) and Sincerity (keeps friends).

John R. Wooden's Pyramid of Success - - What factors feed into a successful, consistent exercise plan? - #goals #goalsetting #quotes #inspirationalquotes #fit #fitfam #fitmama #fitmom #health #healthy #gym #gymworkouts #core #corestrengthening #fitness #diastasisrectirecovery #motivation #weightloss #workoutThe 3rd Layer of Wooden’s Pyramid

Condition — Mental Moral-Physical. Rest, exercise and diet must be considered. Moderation must be practiced. Dissipation must be eliminated.

Skill —A knowledge of and the ability to properly and quickly execute the fundamentals. Be prepared and cover every little detail.

Team Spirit — A genuine consideration for others. An eagerness to sacrifice personal interests of glory for the welfare of all.

This third layer of three blocks places the most obvious physical things needed on a professional team right in the middle of the whole pyramid. This layer is sandwiched by two summary words: Honesty (in thought and action) and Adaptability (in any situation).

The 4th Layer of Wooden’s Pyramid

Poise —Just being yourself. Being at ease in any situation. Never fighting yourself.

Confidence — Respect without fear. May come from being prepared and keeping all things in proper perspective.

Resourcefulness (proper judgement) and Reliability (creates respect) are the end-caps on this layer. I find it interesting and so very true that without poise and confidence many talented athletes never achieve or fail to hang onto competitive greatness.

Think of all the scandals among professional athletes, especially in light of the two words sandwiching that topmost block, Competitive Greatness: Fight (determination) and Integrity (purity of intention).

John R. Wooden's Pyramid of Success - Fit2B.comThe above chart was handed out in the same college lecture as Wooden’s personal formula for success for the accomplished student athlete. As a core fitness specialist, I cannot praise its comprehensiveness enough. As an athlete and a human on the journey with you, I think you’ll join me in seeing how applicable it is to everyone at any level of fitness.

Accomplished Student Athlete: Personal Formula for Success

  • Genetics
  • Ability to focus/make wise decisions
  • Motivation in training
  • Accept coaching
  • Adaptability
  • Ability to rest/select optimum nutrition
  • Personal management of injuries
  • Positive learning from success/non-success
  • Intelligent use of energy in training and performance
  • Use of educational opportunities
  • Efficient time management.

Your genetics may be different from that fitness model you’ve been idolizing. Your income and workload (i.e. socioeconomic status, babies keeping you up all night, etc.) may restrict your ability to rest and select optimum nutrition. Sadly, many healthcare systems don’t cover physical therapy for common injuries related to motherhood, so a lot of women have a hard time managing personal injury like prolapse, umbilical hernia, or diastasis recti.

Do what you can. Take charge of the areas you can control. Scroll back up and take another gander at all those blocks and words in those two charts and seize on a few of them!

For me, I’m seizing on the “Loyalty” block and the third-layer summary word “Honesty” today. I need to be more honest with my family in moments when I need rest or a break to go walk BEFORE an explosion happens, and I really love the idea of self-loyalty and how that crosses over into self-respect.

Your Turn to Comment Your Thoughts!

Which words did you seize for yourself?
What do you think of the pyramid?
What stands out to you in these formulas for fitness success?

Please leave a comment!

John R. Wooden's Pyramid of Success -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.