“The worst thing about new books is they keep us from reading the old ones.” This favorite quote of Coach Wooden's was originated by Joseph Joubert (1754 - 1824) who was a French moralist and essayist remembered today largely for his Pensées (Thoughts), which was published posthumously. I wonder how many other folks would have even read or known of Joseph Joubert? Coach Wooden did! He had a fantastic home library with thousands of books. When asked once how many he had read, he said about 75%.
In the Pat Williams book Coach Wooden, the origins of Coach's love of reading came from his father, Joshua Hugh Wooden. Joshua Wooden was the one who first instilled a love for poetry and great literature in young Johnny Wooden. "We had no electricity, plumbing, or conveniences," Coach Wooden recalled, "and for entertainment, dad read books to us in the evening by the light of the coal-oil lamp. Sometimes we'd hear Lord Alfred Tennyson's Idylls of the King, Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven,' or even William Shakespeare. Before we were sent off to bed, he'd always include a verse or two from the Good Book. Poetry, biographies, and all the other great books will greatly enrich your life. There are so many that are so good, and they will all be available to you. The poetry dad read to us when we were children instilled a love of reading. . . . Drink deeply from those great books of your own choosing and you will enrich yourself."
On the occasions when I am asked how my own five kids got to be so smart, I reply, “We read a lot; we were not home watching TV all night.” One of my wife's prized possessions is a copy of Lord Alfred Tennyson's Idylls of the King. The book is old and tattered and full of notes. On the top of the first page of the introduction is written out two passages that were valuable from the Coming of Arthur. The first quote is, “Doubt which judges by the senses is matched against faith which judges by the spirit.” The second is, “The birth of a spiritual man who rules by force of character and not by right of birth.” These two ideas also reflect Coach Wooden's approach to others: always trust first; and to coaches: be a leader not a dictator.
Go read some old books and see if you can get a little wiser.
Yours in Coaching,