Most successful people can point to a defining moment in the evolution of their success. It’s a moment that will stand out as their magnum opus. For Michael Jordan, it happened on June 11, 1997 during the NBA Finals. Jordan overcame a crippling stomach illness to score 38 points to lead his Chicago Bulls team to a critical Game Five victory over the Utah Jazz.
This remarkable testament to the indefatigable human spirit encapsulates Michael Jordan’s career, greatness and success. This one single event, in a sea of many others, cemented his status as the greatest player in NBA history. Michael Jordan’s career exemplifies nine success traits that serve as a primer for entrepreneurs and business leaders alike.
“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Jim Valvano.
Business leaders and athletes rarely nail it the first time. Success is the result of ongoing efforts to produce a better result than before. By the time businesspeople and athletes achieve incredible success, they’ve often failed many times over. Michael Jordan has said that he’s failed over and over, and that’s why he’s a success. Determination.
“Once You Become Fearless, Life Becomes Limitless.” Unknown.
Michael Jordan was fearless: he was unafraid of his opponents, failure or success. While fear of failure is a motivator for some, fear of success inhibits others. Fear, in one form or another is a limiting factor. Strip away fear and all that’s left is a clear path forward.
“Big results require big ambitions.” Heraclitus.
Successful people, like Michael Jordan, are extraordinarily ambitious. Jordan had the audacity to think and dream big, and the results speak for themselves. An oft-used inspirational canard for athletes: Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team as a sophomore, but his strong ambition drove him to make the varsity team the following season. At times, people may try to belittle your ambitions, but ignore the naysayers and follow the path to fulfillment.
“I’m a firm believer in goal setting. Step by step. I can’t see any other way of accomplishing anything.” Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan, and other business leaders, set goals and the steps required. Setting goals and putting them in writing is a key to success. Doing so provides you with a blueprint to follow, and to keep you on task when things inevitably go awry. Having a plan and following it is what separates great people who achieve tremendous success and those that don’t.
“Visualization lets you concentrate on all the positive aspects of your game.” Curtis Strange.
The process of visualizing allows you to see yourself as successful before it happens, conditioning your mind and body to work toward that objective. Michael Jordan has said many times that he visualized taking the winning shot or making the winning free throws long before it actually happened. For business leaders, it’s no different. They visualize success before it happens and use that visualization as a guide to success. Visualize yourself accomplishing your objectives, and it will be so.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” Walt Disney.
You might have ambition, maybe you set goals, and perhaps you visualize success. If you don’t take action, nothing will happen. Successful people take action, without worrying about the outcome. By taking action, you’re moving yourself toward accomplishing your goals. Have the courage to take that first, often scariest, step. Take action, get moving and you’ll never look back! As Nike’s slogan says, “Just Do It.” Michael Jordan did it.
“The successful warrior is the average man, with a laser-like focus.” Bruce Lee.
In Game One of the 1992 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan set a record with 35 points in the first half. “I was in a zone. What can I say?” said Jordan later. This expression, ‘in a zone’, has been used by athletes to describe their state of mind when they’ve produced extraordinary results. When you have a strong focus on a task or objective, you’ll do whatever it takes to succeed. And you won’t let obstacles get in your way. Whether it’s searching for a new job, creating and implementing a comprehensive marketing plan, or bringing a new idea to market, having a laser-like focus will help you become a successful business warrior.
“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you.” Zig Ziglar.
Nothing great has ever been achieved without confidence. Michael Jordan had such unwavering confidence in himself it bordered on arrogance. He didn’t just think he was going to beat you – he knew it. It’s when we have the confidence to go beyond our previous limits that we can accomplish something extraordinary.
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford.
Underpinning all of the success traits listed above is belief. It fuels confidence, sharpens focus, prompts action, promotes visualization, creates goals, drives ambition, strips fear and strengthens determination. Michael Jordan believed he was going to be a great basketball player; that was the foundation upon which everything else was built. Believe you can do it and you will.
Success is NOT a four-letter word
No one sets out to be below average or even mediocre. The difference between those that have achieved tremendous success and those who haven’t yet can be found in the above traits. We can all be successful if we embrace these traits and define what success looks like. Michael Jordan embodies success like few others, yet anyone can follow his example. Be like Mike – spread your wings and write your own success story.