Living a Principled Life

By: Glenda Lofton, Ph.D.

Mar 29, 2022

It’s basketball season again, and that makes me happy.  I became a basketball fan in the fifth grade, when I served as part-time ball girl and scorekeeper for my dad, who coached the elementary and junior high basketball teams at Pride High  School. From that time on, there was always a ball goal in the yard, and I even got pretty good at shooting myself. When I met Tommy,  he was actively playing in the church league where they won the state championship at Weller Avenue Baptist Church. He continued to play in church and independent leagues until, as he tells me,  one day his mind went down the court and his body didn’t follow.  Today we not only love watching the sport, but we both enjoy reading about it.

It is not surprising then, that my attention was drawn to a brief article on the inspirational page of the Sunday Advocate sometime after the death of John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach of UCLA who died June 4, 2010 at the age of 99. The article was  entitled “Living a Principled Life.” John Wooden’s record as a basketball player and coach is well-documented.  As a basketball player at Purdue from 1928 to 1932, he was the first player named All-American three times and led Purdue to a National Championship.  He was the first person  enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame twice, as a player in 1961 and as a coach in 1973.  As coach of the UCLA Bruins, Coach Wooden won ten NCAA championships, seven in a row, and in his 27 years there, the Bruins won 88 consecutive games and never had a losing season.  This article, however, focused not on his genius as a coach, but on the principles he lived by and encouraged in his athletes—his “game plan for life.” These principles  were rooted in the advice that his father gave him when he graduated from grammar school and that he carried on a card: (1) Be true to yourself; (2) Help others; (3) Make each day your masterpiece; (4) Make friendship a fine art; (5) Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible; (6) Build a shelter against a rainy day; and (7) Give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day. 

John Wooden thought of himself primarily as a teacher.  He expected his players to show up on time and work diligently. In addition to a commitment to hard work, he became known for his simple inspirational messages to his players and his Pyramid for Success, which he took 14 years to develop and included 25 behaviors or virtues for success in basketball as well as in life.  After his retirement in 1975, he was hired by corporations to deliver inspirational lectures and received lecture fees that exceeded his highest salary as a coach ($35,000) which he proudly used to set up education accounts for his grandchildren.  Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.“
  • “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
  • “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
  • “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”
  • “Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”
  • “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.”
  • “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
  • “Young people need models, not critics.”

Wooden’s faith strongly influenced his life.  In his book, They Called Me Coach (2003), he wrote, “I have always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate.  It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live.  There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places  faith in the hands of the Savior.” He read the Bible daily and attended church.  He said he hoped that his faith was apparent to others: “If I were ever persecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.” 

As the mom of two sons who have worked very hard to pass on the principles for life and work on which Lofton Staffing was founded, I think John Wooden’s dad would be very proud. As the author of the article in the Advocate concluded, “We would all do well to follow his example of a principled life…”  


About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today

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Relationships are built…one on one.
Know your people - match interest and talents to the tasks.
Don’t manage by numbers. (They just show if we’re on track.) People do the work.
People should feel better when they leave than when they came – and in turn we feel better.
When we help others, we help ourselves.
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