The Wooden's Wisdom Logo

Motivate Your Team! Cheer Up A Friend! Inspire Yourself!

Issue 36 - Reliability

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 1 Issue 36
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login


On the right side of the Pyramid of Success, below patience, there are four additional pieces of mortar: sincerity, honesty, reliability and integrity. These are qualities that, together, encompass the genuineness, strength, and impact of human character. This week we will discuss reliability.


In his book Coach Wooden‘s Pyramid of Success, with Jay Carty, Coach Wooden defined reliability and its importance in the following manner:


When we are reliable, others know that they can depend on us. They know that we will make the effort to do our best, whatever the situation might be. They know we won't run, cower or become paralyzed by fear. They have learned to count on our consistency and trustworthiness. We'll still be there making the effort to do our best long after the weaker ones have faded. People can bet the farm on us and still be able to sleep at night. Reliability earns the respect of those around us.


Capability doesn't have anything to do with reliability. Some people don't have as much capability as others have, but they make up for their lack by being reliable.


Under each piece of mortar on the Pyramid, in parentheses, there is some brief application advice for that mortar. In the original version of the Pyramid, Coach had suggested that reliability was an important trait because: “others depend upon you.” After revising the Pyramid years later, Coach changed the application advice for reliability to instead read: “creates respect.” Coach had an important motivation for this change. He wanted to make certain that we understand that reliability is necessary for us to be successful, because it earns the respect and trust of others.


Coach emphasized reliability as an important personal trait for any coach in his book Practical Modern Basketball: "Your players must know that they can depend upon you and so must all of your co-workers and neighbors.”


Although he coached basketball at UCLA for 27 years, Coach never took a shortcut in his preparation for each daily practice. In his 27th season he was still spending two hours to plan his two-hour practice session. He earned the respect of all of his teams because they knew they could rely on him to be prepared and give his best effort every practice.


Reliability is a trademark of good character. As Coach liked to say: "Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there."


When we are reliable we are consistent in our efforts, regardless of previous achievements. Coach put it this way: “It's so easy to relax, to cut corners, to let down after you've reached your goal, and begin thinking you can just ‘turn it on’ automatically, without proper preparation. It takes real character to keep working as hard or even harder once you're there.”


A person who is reliable is following two great pieces of advice from Coach Wooden:


“Discipline yourself so others won't have to.”


“Earn the right to be proud and confident.”


 Yours in coaching,



Craig Impelman


Twitter: @woodenswisdom



Watch Video



Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry

Success can only come to you as an individual from self-satisfaction in knowing you gave everything to become the best that you're capable of being. It is impossible to obtain perfection but that must be your goal. Less than 100% of your effort cannot bring success.
Others may have far more ability than you, they may be larger, faster, quicker, better jumpers, better runners, better throwers, but no one should be your superior in respect to loyalty, enthusiasm, cooperation, determination, industriousness, fight, effort and character. Acquire and keep these traits and success is sure to follow.

John Wooden

For more information visit

Enter a list of email addresses, separated by spaces, to send this issue to.

Email a Friend

Return to Issue List

Our Services
Why Wooden's Wisdom
Presentation Team
Wooden's Wisdom Leaders
Leadership Resource Center
Member Login

© Copyright 2024 | # of Times Wooden's Wisdom Issues Opened: 6,787,638

Hosting & Design