Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.Michael Jordan
Born on February 17, 1963, a great athlete and a successful entrepreneur, Michael Jeffrey “MJ” Jordan, is the first billionaire NBA player in history. This catapulted him to be the third-richest African-American behind Oprah Winfrey and Robert F. Smith. In 2015 he became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame. He earned the nicknames Air Jordan and his Airness because of his incredible leaping ability and slam dunks. Jordan is known to be the greatest basketball player of all time.
I am not a big fan of Basketball (or any sport) but I have always been a huge fan of Michael Jordan’s incredible and amazing talent. I was curious of how the young dreamer from Wilmington, North Carolina became the greatest basketball player and the leader of this sport. Here are his secrets to excellence that I believe all leaders can learn from.
HAVE THE MOTIVATION AND THE COMPETITIVE DRIVE
He’s got the motivation to be the best. From the beginning when he discovered what he was good at, he committed to his dream of becoming the greatest, excel his game, and become different from any other great basketball players. If you put your heart and mind in anything you do great things can happen. As leaders, we must commit to a certain vision and not just wing it. Our vision for ourselves and our people will be our direction and the driving force to move forward. We must constantly challenge the status quo and explore process improvement initiatives or seek novel ideas.
My biggest battle was myself but I keep challenging myself.
HONE MENTAL SKILLS OVER PHYSICAL SKILLS
Michael shared in one of his interviews that mental skills would be the harder over physical skills. Mental skills, as he explained, came from the education of the game over a period of time and the application of the knowledge acquired. I would relate this to our opportunity, as leaders, in educating ourselves. We can’t just do ‘trial and error’ run all the time. We must be able to research and read more about anything that could help us in educating ourselves about people, the business we are in and on applicable leadership strategies.Earning hours of experience in leading challenging situations and people can definitely make us successful. Again, we can’t wing it.
HAVE THE COURAGE TO FAIL
Michael said in one of his famous TV commercials, “I failed over and over in my life, missing nine thousand shots, lost more than 300 games and that is why I succeed.” He is right. In life, we can’t choose to just face the good times, we have to deal with the bad times too and in dealing with the latter, we become better versions of ourselves. Take risks, do not limit yourself and get comfortable in mediocrity. Most of the great leaders we know failed many times and they can only cite those failures when they talk about how they became great.
Have the courage to fail, not breaking when you are broken.
PRACTICE AND NEVER BE COMPLACENT
To avoid failing and losing, Michael practiced everyday. He’d be the first and the last person in the court. During practices he’d envision himself being in the real competition so by the time he gets in the real game, he didn’t need to think much or strategize as everything would be like a routine to him. He said this in an interview: “I never feared about my skills because I put in the work. The work eliminates fear so if you put in the work, what are you fearing?“
Never dodge challenges. We usually avoid difficult people or always plan to eliminate them in our teams. Am I right? We should be able to subject ourselves to all sorts of personalities and learn how to deal with each of them or we will never learn and become better leaders for our people.
He said, “Play down the trash-talking and let the game speak for yourself.” Yes, most of us are great at speeches and at preaching but lack actions. We are excellent planners and communicators but do not have the energy and drive to roll up our sleeves and get dirty. We can’t just direct and instruct, we need to show our people how things are done. We can’t tell the world we are the most revered leader when our results don’t tell the same story. We must certainly be conscious about this and keep our actions in check.
Attributes: Passionate over Winning, Humility, Visionary, Contemplative