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My Personal Best : Life Lessons from an All-American Journey Hardcover – May 14, 2004

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My Personal Best : Life Lessons from an All-American Journey + Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court + Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (May 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071437924
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071437929
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

John Wooden, whose UCLA Bruins won 10 NCAA titles in 12 years, is the greatest college basketball coach of all time. Wooden has lived his life with quiet dignity and integrity. The "life lessons" he presents here are less about basketball than about incorporating some of that dignity and integrity into one's own life. Certainly basketball fans will find a trove of wonderful anecdotes in these pages; after all, teaching the game was Wooden's life's work, and he illustrates many of his points with examples from his coaching career. Let's face it: there isn't much here that readers haven't heard a thousand times: work hard, be honest, value your family, have faith, and live by the Golden Rule. Still, college basketball fans will treasure the context Wooden brings to the familiar pieties. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Back Cover

Unforgettable life lessons from the man ESPN named its “Coach of the Century”

“A good teacher or coach must not only understand others, but himself or herself as well.”
--John Wooden

In this captivating book, beloved basketball coach John Wooden reveals the educational journey he took throughout his legendary life, from his earliest days on a small Indiana farm to the glory of his historic record-setting UCLA dynasty. Throughout My Personal Best, Coach Wooden introduces us to the men and women who shaped him and the many important life lessons they taught along the way.

You’ll meet his father, Joshua, the honest, straight-shooting farmer who urged his son, “Don't try to be better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can be.” His mother, Roxie, a hardscrabble survivor who taught her children the value of faith and sacrifice. And his wife, Nellie, the high-school sweetheart (and ukulele virtuoso) who inspired him courtside through many games and who continued to be his inspiration throughout his life.

You’ll also meet Coach’s own coaches, such as Principal Earl Warriner, the feisty disciplinarian who guided Wooden through his first games and left him with the lesson that “no player is bigger or better than the team.” High school coach Glenn Curtis, otherwise known as the Ol' Fox, who taught Wooden the poetry of basketball. And Purdue’s Piggy Lambert, whose unbending principles and love for his team became Wooden’s model of what a great coach and teacher could be.

Last but not least you’ll meet many of the students and players who became, in the end, Coach’s greatest teachers of all.

This treasure trove of all things Wooden also includes rare, never-before-seen photos from Coach’s private collection. Pairing these priceless photos with evocative personal stories, this modern sports classic encompasses the arc of Wooden’s achievements and the spirit of his All-American experience, one that will serve as inspiration to anyone who aspires to be a coach--not only on the court but in every arena of life.

"John Wooden is a living legend because he practiced what he preached--the code of ethics which created America's strength."
--Phil Jackson, head coach, Los Angeles Lakers

"Most of what I know, what's made me a smart man, has come from John Wooden."
--Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer

"A man of John Wooden's accomplishments and integrity would stand out in any era, but now, almost three decades after he coached his last game, he is in some ways an even more striking figure."
--Bob Costas

"John Wooden is a 'philosopher-coach' in the truest sense: a man whose beliefs, teachings, and wisdom go far beyond sports and ultimately address how to bring out the very best in yourself and others in all areas of life."
--Bill Walsh, three-time Super Bowl champion coach

"John Wooden's teaching is timeless."-
-Bill Walton, Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, NBC analyst

“Whether it be on or off the court, John Wooden has been the personification of class and intellect as player, coach, and person for over seventy years. This book is a treasure.”
--Howard Garfinkel, codirector, Five-Star Basketball Camp

“There has never been a finer coach in American sports than John Wooden. Nor a finer man.”
--Rick Reilly, Sports Illustrated

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 33 customer reviews
Can't go wrong with this one!
Jesus A. Castillo
The life lessons you learn from this book will make you a better person, parent and coach if you desire to do so.
Jim Young
After reading this book, I bought a copy for my son and son-in-laws.
William Lopotko

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Blaine Greenfield on January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A little background on John Wooden: he coached the UCLA Bruins to 10 national basketball titles in 12 years . . . even if you're not a hoops fan, imagine any team--high school, college or pro--ever doing that, and you'll realize that it's virtually an impossible task . . .yet Wooden managed to accomplish it, at times with such great players as Kareem Abdul Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) and Bill Walton; at other times with guys you probably never even heard about.

So that's why I jumped at the chance to read MY PERSONAL BEST:

LIFE LESSONS FROM AN ALL-AMERICAN JOURNEY that Wooden wrote with Steve Jamison . . . it was excellent and a "must" read for any sports fan, coach or parent of an athlete . . . adding to my enjoyment were rare, never-before-seen pictures from Wooden's private collection.

You might not learn anything that you haven't heard before, but that's much of what made Wooden such a great coach--and man . . . he stuck to the basics, believing that if his players practiced them, they would succeed . . . no detail was considered insignificant; for example, he

planned practices down to the exact minute on three-by-five inch cards and in notebooks "so there was never any standing around waiting for something to happen."

He also was a big believer in the use of maxims and mottos, tacking them on the bulletin board . . . among them:

Discipline yourself and others won't have to,

Respect every opponent but fear none,

The best way to improve your team is to improve yourself,

Do not mistake activity for achievement,

It is amazing how much we can accomplish when non one cares

who gets the credit, and

Time spent getting even would be better spent getting ahead.

As Wooden notes, "Some might say these are corny expressions, but I believe the messages they contain are true and have a positive impact on those who read them."
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Green VINE VOICE on December 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Prior to living in southern California, I didn't really know who John Wooden was, except that he was a basketball coach. Now I know he was much more than that; he is a legend.

Coach Wooden discusses his life, from his early days playing basketball on an uneven dirt court with fruit baskets to shoot into, to the passing of his beloved wife. He talks about the great influence of his father and coaches who lovingly taught him to always do his best. He openly shares the mistakes he made, both as a player and a coach, and the lessons he learned from them. He also talks about some of the players he coached, the 12 NCAA championships at UCLA, and what made him most proud. Included are numerous photos from his life. And while basketball is a big focus of the book, it's not the only focus in the book or his life.

An inspirational book I can highly recommend to anyone. Coach Wooden is a great role model - something that is unfortunately uncommon among sports figures.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By nHansen on April 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is thin, short, full of pictures, a simple days read, and yet, it is packed with content. This is a journey to the core of Wooden's life. It is simple but complex.

In this book you will read about the central concepts that goverened Wooden's life from childhood to his success(s) at UCLA. He skips the details and goes right for the meat in this book. He tells the reader what exactly he learned, at each point along the way, and then we move to the next item of business. There are some fun pictures, a few interesting stories, but tons of little life "philosophies" that make the read worth it.

If you are interested in cutting away the sometimes bulky biography-type text that can follow a wonderful coach and man, and get right to the core of his life's experience, this is the book for you. It is for all ages, all interests, and should take you no time to read.

This is not an extensive biography, but an extensive course in Wooden principles learned in his life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Iwanoff, D.C. on May 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
While a student at UCLA in the '70s, I often stopped by the afternoon practices to watch Coach Wooden. To this day, he remains an inspiration. His coaching and teachings reach far beyond the basketball arena. His demeanor and style is one to admire.
Grab this book!~ Read it! Learn from it! It is the type of lifestyle you want to replicate, follow, and nurture to all.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Patrick FitzGerald on May 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My Pesonal Best was a joy to read. I'm 35 yrs. old and have been a Coach Wooden fan for as long as I can remember. Success leaves clues, and Coach Wooden has left all of us pure gold with his wisdom and insight for living a successful life. He is incredibly thoughtful and cares not about glory or accolades, but about the person. I wrote Coach Wooden a letter in 6th grade expressing my admiration for him and UCLA, he responded with a full page hand written note and copy of his Pyramid of Success that I cherish to this day! Who other than Coach Wooden would have taken the time to do such a thing? Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TH on May 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My husband and I truly enjoyed reading "My Personal Best" and learning about the important people in Coach Wooden's life who inspired and taught him. He shares with us these lifelong lessons he learned from them. All of us can use this in our own lives.
We highly recommend this book to parents, coaches and teachers. What Coach Wooden teaches us in this book is exactly what we need to teach our children.
Inspirational! Great book! Really enjoyable! Coach Wooden's wisdom is invaluable!
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