Wisdom from Don Yaeger

In my years as an author, I’ve been blessed to spend time with some of the greatest sports legends of all time. Throughout these conversations, I’ve learned some incredible lessons about what makes these athletic stars great – not only on the field or court, but off as well.

Perhaps the most important lesson distilled in me came from my mentor and dear friend, the late Coach John Wooden. While meeting with him in Los Angeles a while back, he explained that the truly “great” understand the value of association:

They know they can only become great if they surround themselves with others headed in that direction.

Wooden described one of his most beloved players, Swen Nader, who started his basketball career as a clumsy high school player and persevered to become a highly sought-after athlete by many universities. While deciding between his options, Nader was given the opportunity of a lifetime – to play with Bill Walton, the best center in America, at UCLA. Nader could attend a small university and be the star player, or he could join Wooden’s team at UCLA and rarely play, but practice and train with the best.

Nader chose UCLA. He surrounded himself with greats like Walton and Wooden, and then made history by becoming the first player selected in the first round of the NBA draft without ever having started a senior college game. He played 12 years professionally and is now the vice president for COSTCO.

Nader attributes his success to the inner circle he chose for himself….Continue reading at InspireMeToday.com.

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Photo Credit:Max Elman


Robert O.
Robert O5 years ago

Thank you Gail.

Marianna B M.


Joan Mcallister
6 years ago

A great and very true quote from John Wooden.

Glenville J O.
Glenville J Owen6 years ago

Thank you for that inspiring story Gail. We are all put on this earth to try out our God given talents and seeking out a master craftsman as Swen Nader did when he was invited to join UCLA and play alongside Bill Walton seemed like a wise move on his part.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton6 years ago

So what is the moral of this story? Greatness depends on the company you keep? If that's the case then that cuts both ways. The holy BuyBull says, "when you lie down with whores you are one." How about Newt Gingrich, he got in the "inner circle" of billionaires and he became a LIAR AND A THIEF! Isn't that GREAT? He got rich from INSIDER TRADING and STOLE TAXPAYERS' HARD EARNED MONEY! That is so GREAT that he gets to run for PRESIDENT!!!! This certainly proves it's all about who you "surround yourself" with!