John Wooden's Pyramid of Success: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore John Wooden's principles for success. Organized into a pyramid, these skills and attributes can help any student hoping to get better in any area.


When you think of being successful when you grow up, what do you think of? Maybe you think about being an astronaut, or a scientist, or a doctor. Maybe you want to be a good farmer, or a veterinarian, or a sports coach.

Whatever you want to do, you'll have to work hard to be successful. This lesson is all about how to get there. In fact, a while ago one rather successful man, John Wooden, came up with a list of the most important skills. He called it a Pyramid of Success.

John Wooden

So, who was this guy? Wooden was born in 1910 in Indiana. As a kid, he became a local basketball star. After playing in college, Wooden became a teacher and a coach. He was famous for his coaching style and how important he considered hard work and positivity.

Wooden's style became so famous that people took his principles and began to use them themselves.

Pyramid of Success

One of Wooden's more popular creations is the Pyramid of Success. The Pyramid lists 15 qualities and skills. They are the keys, according to Wooden, to being successful.

The Pyramid is broken into five different levels.

First 5


This is a fancy way of saying hard work. There is no easy path to success, so you must remember put forth your best effort.


This doesn't mean your best friend, who you like more than anything. This means friendship in a working sense-- being kind to others and building relationships based on trust and respect.


Loyalty means a commitment to the goals of your team. Try to keep your promises and do your fair share of the work.


Cooperation is the ability to listen to others ideas and having the confidence to share your own. Together, good teams can arrive at the best solution.


This means being excited about what you are doing. Think about how much love participating in your favorite subject at school. That type of excitement can keep you motivated when things get tough.

Level 2


If you hope to make good decisions, you must first make sure you are in control of your own emotions and actions. You can always talk to an adult you trust if your emotions feel confusing or overwhelming.


You have to be aware of the situation you are in at all times. You can always find opportunities to learn if you know to look out for them!


You must have the strength to try new things, and the courage to try again if you have failed.


You have to be focused on your goals. It usually takes more than one try to reach your goal. If you don't make it this time, learn from your mistakes and try again!

Level 3


You have to keep yourself healthy, in both body and mind, to achieve great things.


Getting better at things like long division, doing backflips, or making a cake doesn't happen overnight. According to Wooden, you need to not only learn these skills, but practice them, so you do each one well.

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