Mentoring from basketball to world

I want to introduce you to an amazing friend and a wonderful book.
This column is read every week by countless people through hundreds of newspapers, magazines and online publications around the world. I have been writing this column for more than a decade, and in the about 500 previous columns, I’ve recommended only a handful of books.
This past week, Coach John Wooden celebrated his 99th birthday by releasing his latest book titled “A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring.”
Wooden will always be best known for his 10 NCAA championships as head coach of the UCLA Bruins.
He retired from coaching more than three decades ago, but he never retired from life.
Since leaving basketball, Wooden has simply expanded his classroom beyond the basketball court, and he has extended it to the whole world. It is amazing that “A Game Plan for Life” represents the sixth book Wooden has written in his nineties.
I met him because he read my book, “The Ultimate Gift,” then he was gracious enough to review and endorse its sequel, “The Ultimate Life.”
Wooden was instrumental in helping me compile research for my business book, “Ultimate Productivity.”
So, when his publisher asked me to read an advance copy of his new book and write a review, I gratefully and enthusiastically agreed.
“A Game Plan for Life” is practical, poignant and profound, much like its author.
The first half of the book describes seven mentors that have had an impact on Wooden’s life.
He begins by describing the impactful mentorship of Joshua Wooden, his father. Wooden and I have exchanged stories about how each of our fathers mentored us. It seems natural that Wooden would begin his book with his father.
He goes on to describe mentoring relationships with coaches; his beloved wife, Nellie; and two people he never met, Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa, who nevertheless mentored him. The first half of the book will remind you that all of us are products of the special people who have been everyday mentors.
In the second half of the book, he describes his relationships with seven individuals that he has mentored.
These individuals range from world-renowned, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to obscure, like a special ed teacher and his great-granddaughter.
“A Game Plan for Life” teaches us that we can receive wisdom from others, and we have wisdom and experience that should be shared and passed on.
As Wooden begins his hundredth year, he seems to have found a new sense of urgency to pass along his life lessons that we all need so much. His work is a must-read for anyone who needs to have or be a mentor.
As you go through your day, commit to be like Coach John Wooden as you both give and receive the important success lessons of life.
Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books, including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 S. Memorial Drive, Suite 312, in Tulsa or by e-mail at

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