“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”

- John Wooden

John Wooden, the legendary Collegiate American basketball coach, is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport. It’s no doubt his abundant accomplishments at UCLA have left a lasting impact on the sport. His leadership style and philosophical values extend beyond the basketball court, as he believed in winning with grace and losing with dignity. This instilled important life lessons within his team and inspired coaches, leaders and CEOs across various industries on the importance of teamwork, leadership, cohesiveness and character development. Whether you’re considered the top sports executive in business history, or the CEO of a successful organization, the challenge remains the same. While talent takes you to the top, it’s about the character and quality of your team that keeps you up there.

john wooden

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”

– John Wooden

What are some of legendary NCAA Men’s Basketball Coach John Wooden’s accomplishments?

  1. Lifetime Success at UCLA:
    Serving as the head coach of the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team from 1948 to 1975, UCLA became a college basketball powerhouse, compiling a 620-147 overall record under Coach Wooden’s tenure.

  2. Ten NCAA Championships in 12 Years:
    Wooden led UCLA to an extraordinary ten NCAA championships in a 12-year period, including seven consecutive championships from 1967 to 1973. This astonishing achievement is one of the most dominant stretches in the history of college sports and safe to say will never be repeated ever again.

  3. The Historic 88-Game Winning Streak:
    Coach Wooden’s UCLA teams made history with an 88-game winning streak from 1971 to 1974. This streak is one of the longest in men’s college basketball history and remains an indication to Wooden’s coaching superiority.

  4. Four Undefeated Seasons:
    Wooden led four undefeated seasons during his duration at UCLA (1963-64, 1966-67, 1971-72, and 1972-73), an achievement that further solidified his place as an all time coaching great.

  5. Pyramid of Success:
    Wooden is well-known for his “Pyramid of Success,” a philosophy that outlines a set of principles for reaching success both on and off the basketball court. The pyramid highlights qualities such as productiveness, friendship, loyalty, and integrity.

How does the idea of “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” Translate to organizational success?

The idea that “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there” holds key implications for organizational success. This concept underscores the importance of both skills and character in accomplishing and sustaining success. When applied to organizations, it can be translated in a multitude of ways:


  1. Hiring and Talent Development:
    Organizations often prioritize hiring individuals with vigorous abilities and skills related to their roles. However, the idea stresses that character is equally important. Beyond technical capability, individuals with integrity, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to ethical methods leads to a confident and sustainable structural culture.
  2. Leadership and Company Culture:
    Direction plays a pivotal role in shaping organizational character. Leaders who demonstrate strong character traits, such as honesty, modesty, and empathy, set the standard for an optimistic organizational workforce/team. This, in turn, influences how workforces interact, collaborate, and contribute to the overall success of the company.
  3. Teamwork and Communication:
    Tough organizational character is reflected in how teams work together and communicate. A philosophy of respect, open communication, and teamwork improves the shared capabilities of the company. This collaborative character provides innovation, problem-solving, and overall efficiency.
  4. The idea that “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there” emphasizes the importance in hiring individuals that are more than just a set of skills. While technical skills and abilities are important, character traits such as integrity, ethical behavior, and a commitment to positive values play a significant role in sustaining long term success. Organizations that prioritize both aspects are more likely to find long-lasting foundation on and off the court.

At Creative Resource Personnel, we know what it takes to build a company that stands on organizational success from the top down. It starts with the team around you, and lucky for you, we have a talented pool of honest, committed and reliable workers to propel your business to the next level of success! While you focus on other aspects of scaling the business, we’ll take care of putting together a roster of committed individuals that share the same goal of boosting your company to the next level based on the framework of teamwork and integrity.