John Wooden on Success

01 Aug 2012

Enjoyed a talk by John Wooden immensely. The mp3, video and transcript are available here.

There were some very good poetry quoted in the speech. Here they are:

At God’s footstool

At God’s footstool, to confess,
A poor soul knelt and bowed his head.
“I failed,” he cried. The master said,
“Thou didst thy best. That is success.”

No written word, no spoken plea

No written word, no 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.

They ask me why I teach

They ask me why I teach
and I reply, Where could I find such splendid company?
There sits a statesman, strong, unbiased, wise.
Another Daniel Webster, silver-tongued.
A doctor sits beside him, whose quick steady hand
may mend a bone, or stem the life blood’s flow.
And there a builder. Upward rise the arch of a church he builds,
wherein that minister may speak the word of God
and lead a stumbling soul to touch the Christ.
And all about a gathering of teachers, farmers, merchants, laborers.
Those who work and vote and build and plan and pray into a great tomorrow.
And I may say, I may not see the church, or hear the word
or eat the food their hands may grow.
But yet again I may.
And later I may say, I knew him once,
and he was weak, or strong,or bold or proud or gay.
I knew him once, but then he was a boy.
They ask me why I teach
and I reply, ‘Where could I find such splendid company?’“

The Road Ahead, or The Road Behind

Sometimes I think the Fates must grin
as we denounce them and insist
the only reason we can’t win,
is the Fates themselves that miss.
Yet there lives on the ancient claim:
we win or lose within ourselves.
The shining trophies on our shelves
can never win tomorrow’s game.
You and I know deeper down,
there’s always a chance to win the crown.
But when we fail to give our best,
we simply haven’t met the test,
of giving all and saving none
until the game is really won.
Of showing what is meant by grit.
Of playing through when others quit.
Of playing through, not letting up.
It’s bearing down that wins the cup.
Of dreaming there’s a goal ahead.
Of hoping when our dreams are dead.
Of praying when our hopes have fled.
Yet losing, not afraid to fall,
if bravely we have given all.
For who can ask more of a man
than giving all within his span.
Giving all, it seems to me,
is not so far from victory.
And so the fates are seldom wrong,
no matter how they twist and wind.
It’s you and I who make our fates
we open up or close the gates
on the road ahead or the road behind.