As entrepreneurs or business professionals, we have many responsibilities. We are juggling projects, ideas, relationships, and our own personal needs. ESPN released a ten-part documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Growing up in the ‘90s almost every boy in my neighborhood had a pair of Jordans. In fact, I received my first pair for eighth grade graduation.
I loved basketball then, and that love has not died. Like so many others, one of my favorite players of all time is Michael Jordan. Even though in 1991 he beat my Lakers, he still remains a favorite. His moves on the court were magical. But, even more magical has been his ability to leverage his basketball stardom into great business success. Over the years, I put time into thinking about exactly how Jordan was able to be so successful. Keep reading. I think the answer may surprise you.
For the last twenty years, I have been looking at what makes someone successful and where people fall short. Although he is a great example of success, my study is not solely limited to Jordan. It extends to people in general. I have found that the key determinant to success is mindset. Mindset touches everything important in your life. It keeps evolving and changing over time. And, if people are not careful, it’s easy to loosen up your mindset. We need a strong mindset to push us toward success. Jordan exemplifies a person with such a mindset. There are four areas of mindset that stand out to me. External factors play a role. However, internal factors play a greater role. Success is within you.
Michael Jordan had a singular focus. This was to win at any cost. He would demand everything of himself and his teammates. He is intense and relentless. I use an idea similar to this with the clients that I coach. I believe if you want to reach amazing success, you must have a singular focus. This is a constant theme and refrain for your day. It guides the way you set up your routines. It determines the way in which you set up your schedule. It governs your entire day. If you do not have such a focus, you will be distracted and lose sight of your goal. With this level of focus, your business or career will catch on fire. Your team will be energized. You will find new levels of success.
Jordan was self-motivated. He would take any piece of life and turn it into self-motivation. He would take something that his teammate said or his opponent said and use that for self-motivation. He even took not being acknowledged by the opposing coach the night before a game and turned that into fuel. All motivation is mostly self-motivation. A skill that I teach is to find motivation in many places. In the same way, you must find external factors to get motivated. You can use a book, a podcast, or any other medium. However, nobody can motivate you the way you can motivate yourself. It’s dangerous to wait for the perfect opportunity or the perfect time to start. Motivation is a big part of success and if you seek it out, it will have more control over your emotions and your energy level.
Jordan faced unbelievable challenges. During the first few years of his career he could not get out of the eastern conference. The Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons were always in the way. When they lost to Detroit, Michael went to his trainer and said I need to put on muscle. They got to work. He also had to deal with chaotic management and ownership in Chicago.
Personally, he had to cope with the loss of his father who was murdered. Then, of course, there were still the regular struggles that accompany being one of the most recognized stars ever. He had very little privacy. There are unique challenges with every level of success. Everybody goes through challenges. I teach that challenges need to be engaged in a thoughtful way. Challenges should not be ignored. They must be faced. Burying them just means that they will resurface at a later and, most likely, inopportune time. It is a myth that challenges lessen as you become more successful. The truth is that challenges become more complex. Developing the skill of accepting and dealing with challenges is crucial on your way to amazing success.
Michael had strong people around him. He had incredible coaches such as Dean Smith at UNC, Doug Collins, and Phil Jackson. He also had an amazing relationship with his agent. So often we invite people into our lives who tell us what we want to hear. My absolutely favorite part of this documentary was when Michael did not want to meet with Nike, and his mom strongly encouraged him. No matter where we are, we have to be willing to seek encouragement from the right influences. One issue that bothers me these days is that there are so many voices out there, and it’s easy to find the voice that fits our exact narrative. Part of success is inviting mentors, coaches, and different perspectives to help us make the right decision.
Anything amazing that you want to accomplish involves having a mindset built and ready for success. This mean that you must be resilient, self-motivated, able to face a myriad of challenges, and have access to many different perspectives to help guide you along the way.
It is important to have the mindset to build success. It is important to be resilient and self-motivated as you face complex challenges.