Jim Stovall’s “Winners’ Wisdom

This week, I want to introduce you to an amazing friend and a wonderful book.  This column is read each week by countless people through hundreds of newspapers, magazines and on-line publications around the world.  I have been writing this column for more than a decade and in the over 500 previous columns, I’ve only recommended a handful of books.

This past week, Coach John Wooden celebrated his 99th birthday by releasing his latest book entitled A Game Plan for Life:  The Power of Mentoring.  Coach Wooden will always be best known for his 10 NCAA Championships as head coach of the UCLA Bruins.  He retired from coaching over three decades ago, but he never retired from life.

Since leaving basketball, Coach Wooden has simply expanded his classroom beyond the basketball court, and he has extended it to the whole world.  It is amazing that A Game Plan for Life represents the sixth book Coach Wooden has written in his nineties. 

I met Coach Wooden through his reading my book, The Ultimate Gift, and then he was gracious enough to review and endorse the sequel book, The Ultimate Life.  He was instrumental in helping me compile research for my business book, Ultimate Productivity.  So, when Coach Wooden’s publisher asked me to read an advance copy of his new book and write a review, I gratefully and enthusiastically agreed.

A Game Plan for Life:  The Power of Mentoring is practical, poignant, and profound, much like its author.  The first half of the book describes seven mentors that have had an impact on Coach John Wooden’s life.   He begins by describing the impactful mentorship of Joshua Wooden, his father.  Coach Wooden and I have exchanged stories about how each of our fathers mentored us.  So it seems natural that Coach Wooden would begin his book with his father.

He goes on to describe mentoring relationships with coaches, his beloved wife, Nellie and two people he never met, Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa, who nevertheless mentored him.  This first half of the book will remind you that all of us are a product of the special people who have mentored us through every day of our lives.

In the second half of A Game Plan for Life, Coach Wooden describes his relationship with seven individuals that he has mentored.  These individuals range from world-renowned to obscure.   Chapters are dedicated to superstars such as Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.   It is significant that both Walton and Jabbar had lengthy careers in professional basketball, but they both credit their success to the time spent with Coach Wooden through their formative years and to this very day.   Remaining chapters describe John Wooden’s mentoring relationships with famous college coaches and a special ed teacher, as well as Coach Wooden’s great-granddaughter.

A Game Plan for Life teaches us that each of us can receive wisdom from others, and we all have wisdom and experience that should be shared and passed on.  As Coach John Wooden begins his hundredth year, he seems to have found a new sense of urgency to pass along his life lessons that we all need so much.  A Game Plan for Life is a must read for you and anyone who needs to have or be a mentor.

As you go through your day today, commit to be like Coach John Wooden as you both give and receive the important success lessons of life.

Today’s the day!

About the author: Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082, or by e-mail at Jim@JimStovall.com.