In my opinion – and the opinions of a huge number of NBA experts –Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player ever. He was actually named the greatest athlete of the 20th century in ANY sport by ESPN.
We have all heard the story of Jordan not making his high school team. When we hear that story, most people can’t believe the coach could have missed his undeniable talent. After all, a few years later, Michael would hit the game-winning shot as a freshman in the NCAA national championship game.
The work ethic of Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan didn’t become the greatest of all time with natural born talent. He had the most intense work ethic I’ve come across studying elite athletes. His teammates and coaches knew him as the first player at every practice and the last one to leave. He was the hardest working NBA player any of them had ever met.
His hard work was evident back in his high school days too. At a University of North Carolina high school basketball camp, coach Roy Williams noticed Jordan in the first group of kids competing. Williams approached Michael, introduced himself and asked him to stay for a second training session. Later in the day, Jordan snuck back into the gym for a third training session.
It’s not just Jordan’s relentless work that amazes me to this day. I’m more impressed that he always wanted to improve.
Michael Jordan always tried to improve
Shortly after winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award after his first season with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan returned to Chapel Hill. He wanted to talk candidly with Williams. He asked his former coach, “What do I need to do to work on my game?”
Williams asked Jordan what more he could need since he just won Rookie of the Year. Jordan insisted that Williams be honest and offer suggestions for improvement. Williams suggested that he master his jump shot. If Jordan could routinely hit his jump shots, defenders would never be able to drop off him defensively.
We can all get better at what we do
No matter how good you are at what you do, you can always get better. Maybe you work to perfect a new surgical technique. Maybe you improve your close rate in your sales calls. Maybe you elevate your customer service. Whatever that skill is that is less than 100%, you can find it and make it better.
We should find a mentor and ask for feedback
Often that improvement requires us to ask for feedback. We all need someone knowledgeable to assess our skills and performance and tell us where we need to improve. If Michael Jordan knew he needed to improve even though he was already one of the best players in the NBA, then the rest of us have no excuse.
Find a mentor you trust and ask for help, even if you feel comfortable with your abilities and your performance. If you work in sales, ask the top salesman in your company. Ask your manager. Find someone in another company or even another industry who can share valuable advice.
Good enough just isn’t enough
Always seek to improve. As legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno said, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” Don’t accept “good enough,” because good enough just isn’t enough.
Find your areas of weakness. Take steps to improve them every day. If Michael Jordan needed to improve, we all do.
Ready to win in every aspect of your life?
I’ve created a checklist of 12 qualities of the world’s best athletes and coaches that will help you win in your work and life. If you adopt these traits, you will succeed in every aspect of your life, every single day.
Source: Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made by David Halberstam
Recommended Products and Resources
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