The Chicago Bulls dominated their league like no other team in no other sport during the 1990’s. They won 6 NBA championships, an astounding record.
I just finished reading the outstanding book Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made. It’s an insightful look into what made Jordan and his Bulls so special.
Here are some of their secrets:
1) Hard work. Jordan came to practice before anyone and left last. This got him from being rejected for the high school varsity to dominating the pros.
2) Coachability. Anyone who coached Jordan, even in baseball, said he was unusually coachable. His willingness to learn from others, rather than think he knew everything, set him apart.
Consider that for a player of his stature, it would be easy to dismiss a coach’s suggestion! But he didn’t.
Even the quirky Dennis Rodman listened carefully to coach Phil Jackson’s lessons.
3) Love of the game. Both Jordan and Scottie Pippen stood out for truly loving basketball.
Jordan even had a highly unusual clause in his contract. He could stop at any basketball court in the world, any time, and play a pickup game.
And he did so, frequently! I like imagining Jordan pulling up at a playground in a fancy car, lacing up his sneakers, and heading out onto the court.
I just wouldn’t want to have to guard him!
This type of clause is highly unusual due to the risk of injury, but Jordan insisted on it.
It’s hard to work at something so intensely for so many years if you don’t love it! And that’s what it takes to excel.
4) Ability to see others strengths, not just their weaknesses.
Jackson was upset when Pippen refused to play at the end of the Eastern Conference Finals. But he didn’t let that incident sour him on Scottie as a player.
Instead, he viewed it in the context of all of Scottie’s great work over the years. Even the exacting Jordan became more aware of his teammates’ strengths over time.
This is an area I struggle with. If someone does one thing wrong, I tend to view them negatively, forgetting all their great work.
I plan to take a lesson from Coach Jackson on this in the future!
5) Never giving up. Jordan was famously cut by his high school team.
Rodman didn’t even make the team at all. And Pippen started college basketball at a no-name school as the team equipment manager.
These are not people you would think would’ve ever even made it to the NBA, much less won 6 championships.
Their perseverance made the difference!
Check out this excellent book along with the addictive Netflix series The Last Dance. Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you can learn a lot from the Bulls about excellence in any field!
More on leadership:
From Anticommunist to Navy SEAL: “I Owe Everything to America”
Jocko on Leadership: “Ownership Is the Most Valuable Compensation”
The Best Motivational Speech of 2021
Photo: “Michael Jordan” by simplistic.designs is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Facebook/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog!
Save Money on Stuff I Use:
Amazon Business American Express Card
You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?
If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.
Best of all: No fee!
This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.
If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.
My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.
Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order.