I admire Coach John Wooden. I don’t care much about all the coaching wins, championships, and rewards. He emphasizes character. He is keen on concentrating on what is within your control and not becoming distracted when things beyond your control bring different results than what you hope for and work for. In his own way he aimed to live out the Golden Rule.

I’ve read several things by and about him. Recently, I was reading a book he wrote with Steve Jamison titled Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court. I came upon the following.

“You have control only over the present, right now. Let me prove it to you. I ask you to do this: change the past. Even the smallest, most incidental, least important thing that happened in the past. Go ahead and show that you can change it.

The future? Again I ask you, change right now something in the future. Can you? Of course not. Your control exists now, in the present, right here.”

That potent insight goes to the heart of living a life worth imitating. We create our legacy every day with our actions and our choices.

The Past

The past is gone. We can’t do anything about it. We can remember the past and may draw lessons, warnings, or inspiration from it, but we can’t change it. Coach Wooden’s advice: “Learn from the past, don’t live in the past.” That’s especially tempting if you’re successful. It’s easy to remember past success and neglect the present and the future.

The Future

The future tempts us differently. We can dream about a wondrous future where things are closer to what we want. We can imagine our perfect future. Reality won’t match our imagination. Focusing on our fantasy can lead to neglecting the actions and choices that will bring it about.

Your Legacy

Your legacy will be what people say, think, and do because of your impact. You create your impact with what you do today. Coach Wooden called it “the right now.”

What will you do and say today to create the legacy of a life worth imitating?

What choices will you make in “the right now” that you want others to remember?


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

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