By Sunny Simon

I learned recently the late beloved college basketball coach, John Wooden carried around a treasured gift from his father. On a tattered and aged piece of paper was the creed on which he based his life. I was so in awe of it I had to find out more about this Midwestern man who is touted as being “College basketball’s most successful coach” and named by ESPN “Coach of the Century.”

This amazing legend grew up on an Indiana farm. His childhood home had no electricity or indoor plumbing. As a high school basketball hero he led the home team to three consecutive finals. He married a lovely lady who played coronet in the school band. They were married for 53 years. Only death could separate them.

Okay, maybe you knew all that, but I didn’t. His “life list,” the creed his father bestowed upon him consists of seven simple sentences: “Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books especially the Bible. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter for a rainy day. Pray for guidance, count and give thanks for your blessings every day.”

I now understand how this legendary coach could bring out of best in his players. He was authentic in a world where truly genuine human beings are rare. He role modeled wisdom, kindness, integrity and love. I also understand he had a very wise father who created a treasure map for his son. Somehow I think that trumps assets in a will. The life lessons teach if you follow the credo, your life will be rich and filled something more satisfying than wealth.


Wooden co-authored a book, “My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey. I want him to coach me so I’m going to read it. But in the meantime, I’ve decided to create my own life list. I’ll borrow some belonging to the coach and add things I need to work on like: Give love completely without keeping score and practice patience daily.

How about you? Would now be a good time to create a life list? I think no matter what your chronological stage of life, it’s never too late to chart a course for the rest of your time on this planet. Invest some time in it this week. As Coach Wooden would remind us, “Never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s in your power.”

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at