A Good And Beautiful Life

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

The legend of former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden will live on for generations.  Although he left the coaching profession 40 years ago, and died in 2010 at the age of 99, this man is still talked about with great reverence – especially this time of the year.

Coach Wooden won a record number of games and championships.  He did it the right way - with integrity.

Coach Wooden won a record number of games and championships. He did it the right way – with integrity.

In his book, The Good and Beautiful Life, author James Bryan Smith discussed an interview he had with Coach Wooden in 2006.  Smith asked him the secret to his good life.  He said, “Jim, I made up my mind in 1935 to live by a set of principles, and I never wavered from them … Principles like courage and honesty and hard work, character and loyalty, and virtue and honor – these are what constitute a good life.”  He further explained that his principles were grounded in his faith.

A memorable story often told about him was that on the first day of basketball practice he would spend the first hour teaching the players how to put their socks on properly.  If done incorrectly, they would get blisters.  Smith explained that Coach Wooden was teaching his players an important life principle:  Do even the small things well.

We can learn a lot from studying the lives of people.  No one is perfect, but if we are intentional about doing enough small things well with integrity, like Coach Wooden, we will live a good and beautiful life.