Why Resourcefulness Is an Important Personal Trait

UPDATED: October 18, 2023
PUBLISHED: September 13, 2017

On the left side of the Pyramid of Success, below faith, there are four additional pieces of mortar: ambition, adaptability, resourcefulness and fight. These are qualities that encompass the resolve, ingenuity and resilience of the human spirit.

In his book Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, with Jay Carty, Coach Wooden defined resourcefulness and its importance in the following manner:

“Resourcefulness is using our wits, proper judgment and common sense to solve problems and meet challenges. It is using initiative in difficult situations and involves inventing, creating, imagining, synthesizing, evaluating, classifying, observing and analyzing solutions to overcome the trials that life throws at us. Resourcefulness is dreaming up ways to meet our goals.”

Related: How to Live Your Life With Intentness

Coach also emphasized resourcefulness as an important personal trait for any coach in his book Practical Modern Basketball:

“Each individual and each team present a different and separate problem: mentally, morally, physically, socially and spiritually. Use the proper approach for each.”

All of us can find employment in either the Excuses Department or the Solutions Department. It is resourcefulness that allows us to maintain a position in the Solutions Department. Coach liked to say, “A good place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm.” Or as Dwight Morrow put it, “There are no hopeless situations, there are only hopeless men.”

Related: The Key to Adaptability

When Coach played basketball at Purdue University, there were no athletic scholarships. He had to meet the demands of being an outstanding student and the practice time required to be a three-time All-American, and ultimately the college player of the year.

Coach lived in a fraternity house while attending college. He initially attempted studying in the evenings, but he had a lot of difficulty because there was so much movement. His resourceful solution was to go to bed early in the evening and wake up at 3 a.m. to attend to his studies. By doing so, he was able to accomplish in two or three hours what previously took four or five.


Resourcefulness is rather the ability to act effectively or imaginatively, especially in difficult situations.


Coach also needed to make money, so he tapped into his resourcefulness by walking the aisle of the train going to the Purdue-Chicago football games and selling sandwiches, candy bars and fruit, and sometimes homemade lapel pins. During his last two years at Purdue, he had basketball programs printed and hired people to sell them at his home games. “Today, they would call that an entrepreneurial spirit. I just call it resourcefulness,” Coach said.

Coach did not view resourcefulness as finding a trick or a shortcut. He would remind us, “If you keep too busy learning the tricks of the trade, you may never learn the trade.” Resourcefulness is rather the ability to act effectively or imaginatively, especially in difficult situations, and as Coach defines it, using proper judgment.

Related: How to Handle Adversity: Don’t Whine, Don’t Complain, Don’t Make Excuses.

This article originally appeared on TheWoodenEffect.com and has been republished with permission.

As Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law, Craig Impelman had the opportunity to learn Coach’s teachings firsthand and wrote about those lessons for his site, www.woodenswisdom.com. He is a motivational speaker and the author of Wooden’s Wisdom, a weekly “e-coaching module” that is distributed to companies nationally.