The Real Measure of Success

I don’t often get excited by bronze statues.

To be honest, bronze statues of basketball players are even less interesting. Despite being 6’4” tall, I’m more of a baseball guy.

But this statue of John Wooden, sitting just outside of Mackey Arena at Purdue University, had me reaching for camera. Not because he played basketball for my Alma Mater (though that is awesome), but because of the Success Pyramid that he developed before being named the “greatest coach of all time” by The Sporting News in 2009.

If you don’t know who John Wooden is, I’m not going to tell you. Look him up. You need to know about him, his legacy, and the principles he stands for.


In a world of tips, tricks, tactics, and life-hacks, John Wooden built one of the most successful coaching careers in history by following precisely none of them.

Instead, he worked on his character. He worked on principles. Principles that defined his success. Principles that can help guide ours.

Behind me in this picture is a pyramid of Wooden’s principles: competitive greatness, poise, confidence, competition, skill, team spirit, self-control, alertness, initiative, intentness, industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and enthusiasm.

It doesn’t say meditate.

It doesn’t say eat 30 grams of protein first thing in the morning.

It doesn’t say journal or exercise or plan your day.

While these activities may help you lose weight, get into a routine, or get more done, they are still just “things to do”.

The real measure of success isn’t just what you do. It’s what you do AND who you are. It’s action PLUS character.


Without action, you’ll never make a dent in the universe. But without character, your actions will be misguided.

You and I will never get to meet John Wooden. He passed in 2010. But we can learn from him, the books he wrote, and the people he influenced.

Tell us all, in the comments below, have you seen these success principles at work in those around you? What have they taught you and what can they teach us?

About the Author


Michael Mehlberg


I help high-achieving entrepreneurs live their passion and achieve their dreams by consistently saving time, getting productive, and being more efficient and organized.

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