An Insightful Question and a Heartfelt Answer

I received the most brilliant question from some kids via their amazing 100 Mile Club Coach and I though it was worth sharing. I have built my entire philosophy on education (and subsequently 100 Mile Club,  of course!) around Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success and I love that this class dug in deep wanting more answers.


Hey Kara!  Our PE classes just finished reading Coach’s book about Inch and Miles The Journey to Success. Several students want to know why PATIENCE is not one of the blocks of the pyramid! We talked about it and I told them (4th and 5th graders) that I would ask someone that might know. So there you go. Do you know why?

Coach Wooden's I&M Pyramid of Success

Melanie Justice, Livingston ISD



What a perfect and thoughtful question.

You can tell your kids that they are ready for the Original Pyramid of Success now. The version of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success illustrated so beautifully by Susan Cornelison in Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success (see above/right) was modified to be more easily comprehended by younger children. It only includes the bricks or “Building Blocks” of the Pyramid and even a word or two was changed to help with comprehension (Industriousness became “HARD WORK”, etc.). It does not include some of the most important parts of the Original Pyramid of Success…the MORTAR Qualities.

Below is Coach’s Original Pyramid and the “kid” pyramid for comparison…and you can see on the Original Pyramid of Success that there are qualities and traits that hold everything together. These are what he called “mortar qualities”.

pyramid of success

If you look at the veeeeerrrry top of the pyramid, you see two qualities: Faith and Patience.

Your kids NAILED it!! I love that they saw the need for more…it means they are ready to dig deeper.

Mortar is what holds together any structure, and without it even the strongest materials (the Blocks) could topple. We should all work on these mortar traits to solidify the work we do as we develop and master the blocks of the Pyramid.

The pinnacle traits in the mortar are Patience and Faith. Anything worth being successful at does not come easy and will take time to build. It is impossible to get there without these two traits. Patience and Faith does not mean just sitting back and letting things happen. It’s actually quite the opposite.

Patience and Faith are both very active processes.

Patience is remembering that “good things take time” and progressing at the proper rate, not rushing or trying to get somewhere or do something too soon. Often people are in such a hurry to achieve “success” they try to rush the process. It is vital to go through the proper progression and at the proper rate. Be prepared for when the time or an opportunity comes, but don’t rush to get there before being fully prepared.

Faith (I believe) runs hand-in-hand with the “peace of mind” Coach Wooden pursues in trying to attain what he calls (and we at 100 Mile Club define as ) success.


– John Wooden

When someone knows they are giving their true best effort to do the things they need to be doing, it’s much easier to have patient faith that success will happen.

And just so you know…there is one quality, one word, that surrounds it all. Coach and I discussed this many times. Do you know what it is?

Melanie, I could talk about this all day. Thank you so much for the question…and like all good questions, it will undoubtedly raise more questions. Here are a few books and sites that you might like for yourself and your students.

Love and sMILES,






Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success: Building Blocks for a Better Life

I was at Coach Wooden’s apartment the day these books were delivered. He handed me a copy right from a freshly-opened box and needless to say, I cried! It is simply written and does have some religious parts referencing bible verses, but those are in their own section behind each block description, so it can work in all settings, secular or otherwise.

You Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learned: John Wooden’s Teaching Principles and Practices 

My former babysitter and player under Coach Wooden, Swen Nater, wrote this book with Ron Gallimore. It’s great for teachers!!

The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership

The Official Site of Coach John Wooden


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Kara Lubin
Kara Lubin