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Home » John Wooden: The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding (Transcript)

John Wooden: The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding (Transcript)

John Wooden

Here is the full transcript of John Wooden’s TED Talk: The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding…

Listen to the MP3 Audio: The difference between winning and succeeding by John Wooden

John Wooden – American basketball player

I coined my own definition of success in 1934, when I was teaching at a high school in South Bend, Indiana, being a little bit disappointed, and disillusioned perhaps, by the way parents of the youngsters in my English classes expected their youngsters to get an A or a B. They thought a C was all right for the neighbors’ children, because they were all average.

But they weren’t satisfied when their own — it would make the teacher feel that they had failed, or the youngster had failed. And that’s not right. The good Lord in his infinite wisdom didn’t create us all equal as far as intelligence is concerned, any more than we’re equal for size, appearance.

Not everybody could earn an A or a B, and I didn’t like that way of judging, and I did know how the alumni of various schools back in the ’30s judged coaches and athletic teams. If you won them all, you were considered to be reasonably successful — not completely.

Because I found out — we had a number of years at UCLA where we didn’t lose a game. But it seemed that we didn’t win each individual game by the margin that some of our alumni had predicted. And quite frequently I really felt that they had backed up their predictions in a more materialistic manner. But that was true back in the 30s, so I understood that.

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