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Issue 1 - Never Lie, Never Cheat, Never Steal

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 1 Issue 1
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login


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Coach Wooden’s father, Joshua, gave each of his four boys two direct sets of three rules he hoped would guide their everyday behavior. They were referred to as “Two Sets of Three.” The first set dealt with integrity, and is a good starting point for any leader:


Never lie

Never cheat

Never steal


These rules are simple and self-explanatory. The first thing anybody wants to know about you is, “Can I trust you?” It is a question asked by parents, friends, co-workers, recruits, athletic directors, fellow coaches and anyone else with whom you may hope to build a relationship. By following these three simple rules consistently, you will always be trustworthy. The most  important teaching tool is the example you set. To set the model for good character, you should consistently follow rules that drive your behavior. It is difficult to be your best if you are a person whose ethics depend upon the situation or the company you keep. A tremendous asset to your recruiting ability, in any edeavor, is your character, which will be conveyed to whoever you are recruiting when you are not present.


On each side of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success are five desirable character traits that he referred to as mortar, the substance that holds the structure together. Four of the five pieces of mortar on the right side of the pyramid directly reflect what he learned from his father’s first set of three: “Integrity (purity of intention), Reliability (creates respect), Honesty (in thought and action), and Sincerity (keeps friends).”


Coach Wooden’s players and those he worked with over the years always talk about the good example he set. His coworkers have told many stories about this, such as the payment he made to cover some personal phone calls he had placed over a school phone, even though they totaled less than a dollar.


One of his fellow coaches spoke of the fact that after Coach Wooden retired and maintained an office in the athletic department, he would still take all of his return correspondence and packages to the post office himself each day and pay for the postage out of his own pocket. His integrity was legendary.


 Coach provided us with a great quote to help us remember the lesson he learned from his Father:


"If you always tell the truth, you will not have to remember what you said."



Click here for personal development exercise.


Click here for Printable Poetry Issue One.


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Yours in coaching,



Craig Impelman


Twitter: @woodenwisdom



Application Exercise

Favorite Poems

No written word
nor spoken plea
Can teach our youth
what they should be.
Nor all the books
on all the shelves.
It’s what the teachers
are themselves.


Four things a man must
learn to do
If he would make his life
more true:
To think without
confusion clearly,
To love his fellow man
To act from honest
motives purely,
To trust in God and
Heaven securely.

~Rev. Henry Van Dyke

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