What does the above ability quote by American basketball player and coach, John Wooden mean?
The word “character” means your personality, temperament, or mentality.
So this quotation by John Wooden aka the “Wizard of Westwood”, “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there” means just having a skill or talent is not enough to stay successful.
Good character includes integrity, moral strength, rectitude, fortitude, or grit.
We all have read or heard the popular saying “talent is never enough”.
As mentioned in John Maxwell’s book, “TALENT IS NEVER ENOUGH: Discover the Choices That Will Take You Beyond Your Talent“, he said there are thirteen choices you need to make in order to maximize your own personal talents.
Here are two links to the summary of John Maxwell‘s book.
This John Wooden’s quote is found in: They Call Me Coach By John Wooden, Jack Tobin, McGraw-Hill, 2004, 23; p.152.
Here are three quotes found in this book:
“But there seems to be little correlation between a man’s effectiveness and his intelligence, his imagination or his knowledge.” – Peter F. Drucker
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King
“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” – William Jennings Bryan
(From the speech titled “America’s Mission” delivered by the leader of the Democratic Party at the Washington Day banquet given by the Virginia Democratic Association at Washington, D.C., 22 February 1899)