John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success: What It Is and What It Offers

John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is a model that talks about the values ​​needed to achieve whatever we set out to do.. It was originally used for the world of sports, with great success, which is why it has spread to business and even personal life.

This model has become so famous that its creator, a coach of college basketball teams, has achieved many victories on the court by applying his pyramid which, rather than telling us what we need to do to get what we want, suggests the philosophy to follow. if we want to be successful in our lives.

Today we are going to dive into this pyramid of success and what are the values ​​that make it up, determining how successful a person is with anything on offer.

    What is John’s wooden pyramid?

    The John Wooden Pyramid of Success is a behavioral model designed to improve the performance of basketball players. Over time, this pyramid has crossed the playing field, become not only a very useful role model in other sports but also applied to other fields, especially business sector and personal life. It is considered to be one of the best tools for achieving goals, both individual and group.

    It is named after its inventor, John Robert Wooden (1910-2010), coach of the prestigious University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) basketball team. Under his leadership, the collegiate team won 10 of the 12 titles contested. Wood did not go down in history for these triumphs, but for the philosophy behind the successes of the college basketball team, synthesized in the Pyramid of Success.

    This template is not a simple guide to what to do to be successful, but rather a recommendation of what values ​​should be developed and internalized in our lives to achieve what we have set for ourselves. This is why it does not apply only to the field of sport, but to others because it marked a way of understanding life and achieving goals, whatever they are.

    John Wooden saw success as an iceberg, so we can see it in his model.

      Parts and structure of the pyramid

      In John Wooden’s pyramid of success, we generally speak of five levels, although if we include values ​​according to the degree of importance, we can distinguish three main areas: the base, the body and the top. Each includes core values ​​to work on if you want to achieve a goal, be it athletic, professional, academic, social, or life-saving.

      The base of the pyramid

      At the base of the Pyramid of Success, also known as Level 5, are 5 components that are considered to support the rest of the structure. These are:

      1. Labor

      The path to success in anything is work. We have to make efforts in what we want to achieve. Hard work is a core value, the first thing that must be learned and applied if you are to be successful. Constant work is a requirement to achieve everything we set out to do.

        2. Enthusiasm

        The conviction and the desire to do what is done these are fundamental aspects for the success of what we have set out to do. These two elements are components of what is called the craze for John Wooden’s pyramid of success model.

        3. Friendship

        No matter how successful we are, there have always been other people who have helped us achieve them. Friendship is something that facilitates the achievement of any goal and objective, even in the most formal environments such as work. Having friends increases your enthusiasm, effort, and persistence towards the goal you want to achieve.

          4. Loyalty

          Loyalty should be to yourself first, then to others and goals. Loyalty can be understood in this model as consistency with what is to be achieved.

          5. Cooperation

          Cooperation is another aspect that serves as the basis for success in what one desires. It’s about helping others and being helped. When each person becomes a powerful stimulus for others to be cohesive and at the same time gain more motivation and desire to continue what that person was doing, they are more likely to achieve the end goal.

            The body of the pyramid

            The second major area of ​​John Wooden’s pyramid of success is the body. Here we find the values ​​that help ensure that the proposed purpose is maintained over time. Here are the following 7 values, corresponding to levels 4 and 3 in most infographics on this pyramid:

            6. Initiative

            You have to show initiative, go for what we want and not wait for it to come to us by magic. We need to make decisions and take an active role to move forward. You should never be afraid of failure, but see it as an opportunity to learn and do better next time. He loses more to the one who does not try than to the one who tries and fails, because the second something is taken in the form of learning and experiences.

            7. Purpose or intention

            It purposely refers to the planning required to achieve the goal. This would be the conscious and more or less meticulous roadmap that must be followed to achieve what has been proposed.. This does not mean that it is immutable and inflexible, as the context may change and make it necessary to incorporate certain modifications into this roadmap.

            8. Self-control

            Self-control can be understood with make a constant effort to maintain balance in difficult times. Along the way there will be ups and downs, but if one controls oneself and avoids falling into the temptation of laziness, reluctance and abandonment, one will realize much of what is happening. ‘we are about to do.

              9. Alert

              With vigilance, you avoid falling into overconfidence. We need to be on the lookout for any changes, especially when it comes to disrupting our plans. Goals are only achieved when they are actually achieved. By this we mean that no matter how close we are to it, even if we only have one step left to take, if we don’t, we will never be able to say that we have achieved what we are. proposed to do.

              10. State

              It is necessary to prepare, learn, develop skills and mitigate weaknesses. It is essential to stay in good physical, psychological and mental shape, whatever the proposed goal..

              For example, if some footballers want to win the next match, in addition to training they will have to control their emotions on match day, prepare themselves psychologically so that desperation and nerves do not wreak havoc with them the day they are. in the field. .

              Another would be to pass university exams. Studying will need to be studied, but if you take care of your physical health, control your diet, exercise, and learn to manage your emotions, you are more likely to pass future assessments.

              11. Dexterity and skill

              Every task essential to achieving our ultimate goal should be practiced as if life were for us. Dexterity is the ally of success and therefore of tasks linked to our objective they will need to be repeated and practiced until we do them without errors, quickly and skillfully.

              12. Team spirit or collaboration

              Even if the goal we set for ourselves is individual, we will always need the help of others. We have to think collectively, be a team player and understand that the best goals are those that benefit a lot of other people.

              The top of the pyramid

              At the top converge all the values ​​we have seen so far, resulting in three essential traits to achieve everything what we set for ourselves. It corresponds to level 2 of some infographics, and contains the following values:

              13. Character

              In the pyramid of success of John Wooden is understood by the strength of John Wooden maintain all the values ​​of the previous sectors, in addition to cultivating and increasing them. It is also the ability to be authentic in all situations.

              14. Confidence

              Trust is that every person has to believe in their own capacities. If he is successful, it will only be a matter of time before he gains the trust of others as well, and he should never fall into pedantry.

              15. Competitiveness

              Competitiveness can be understood as knowing how to compete, learning from the most difficult times and facing challenges with courage and tenacity. The harder the path, the sweeter the ultimate success.


              Success is the last level of the pyramid, represented graphically as the tip of it. For John Wooden, this success can be summed up in the following sentence:

              “Success is the peace of mind that arises as a natural result of the intimate satisfaction that comes from knowing that you’ve done your best to become the best that you are capable of being.”

              This success can only be judged by oneself, because everyone will know if he succeeded or not and what feeling arises in him the fact of having succeeded.

              We can learn a lot from John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. Among them, that it is not possible to achieve only the goal, that we will always need other people, no matter how individual the goal we have set ourselves to achieve. Cooperation with others and team spirit are very high values ​​and useful to achieve everything we set out to do.

              Outraged, you have to show enthusiasm to the end, not lose sight of the original roadmap, have a strong character and trust each other, being these values ​​and many others, the key to success. You should never be afraid to fail, because you always learn from the decision.

              Bibliographical references

              • Gallimore, Ronald. (2014). Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success: A Comparison to Sports Psychology Literature: A Commentary. International Journal of Sports and Training Sciences. 9. 103-106. 10.1260 / 1747-9541.9.1.103.
              • Johnson, N., The John Wooden Pyramid of Success: The Biography, Oral History, Philosophy and Ultimate Guide to Life, Leadership, Friendship and Love of the Greatest Coach in the History of Sports, Rev. 2nd Edition, Cool Tiles, Los Angeles, California, 2004.
              • Nater, S. & Gallimore, R., You Didn’t Teach Until You Learned: Teaching Principles and Practices by John Wooden, Fitness Information Technology, Morganstown, WV, 2010.
              • Tharp, RG and Gallimore, R., John Wooden of Basketball: What a Coach Can Teach a Teacher, Psychology Today, 1976, 9 (8), 74-78.

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