Michael Jordan’s epic career is a master class on the mindset necessary to achieve extraordinary success. ESPN’s sports documentary miniseries, The Last Dance, dives deeply into the mindset of the legendary Michael Jordan and the championship Chicago Bulls teams that he led.
The series didn’t just resonate with sports fans; many wore their Air Jordans the Nike signature shoe while watching (not naming any names here); it is also full of vital lessons on success. Here are our top five takeaways from the show:
Success requires total and complete dedication to your craft.
It becomes apparent early on in the series that while Michael Jordan has incredible athletic ability, he improved dramatically throughout his career. Even after winning a national championship with North Carolina, being named the NBA Rookie of the year, and reaching the NBA finals, Jordan always wanted more and was willing to do whatever it took to improve. One example: when the Bulls were eliminated from the NBA Championships by the Detroit Pistons, Jordan immediately went to the gym instead of taking a vacation and put on 15 pounds of muscle in the off-season. His teammates followed his lead.
To be successful, you need this same constant drive for improvement. Jordan could have been complacent with all he had achieved at that point in his career, but instead, he went back to work. Growing complacent or settling not allows others to catch up and eventually surpass you but limits your potential.
In his early years, Michael Jordan focused heavily on his play. It got him a high stat line, but he couldn’t cross that threshold to win a championship. Ultimately, Jordan realized that achieving team success was the only way he would be considered the greatest of all time. When Jordan set aside his ego, and the Bulls emphasized teamwork over dominance by one superstar, the real magic happened.
No matter how much of a superstar you are, you can never do it alone. Success for any leader depends on the ability to surround yourself with team players you trust to take the last shot.
Be Willing to Push Others Around You
One theory on why it took over 20 years to release this documentary was that it showcased how Michael Jordan treated his teammates. He wasn’t always the most approachable, friendliest, or most understanding leader. He expected his teammates to perform at their personal highest level, the same standard he held himself. Jordan pushed his teammates out of their comfort zones, even if they didn’t like it.
The same lessons apply to leaders. Influential leaders know how to challenge those around them to become the best versions of themselves. It wasn’t always pleasant, but Jordan forced his teammates to accomplish more collectively.
Know When to Take a Break
At the height of his career, Jordan walked away from basketball and turned to his first love, baseball. Even the greatest basketball player of all time needed to take a break.
Burnout can be personally or professionally ruinous if you don’t listen to your body and take time off when needed.
The Mindset of a Champion
As physically gifted as his body was, the secret weapon Michael Jordan possessed was his mind. Nobody in the world could compete with him. He believed he was the best and committed to the idea that he would overcome all competitors.
Leaders and entrepreneurs require that same tenacious mindset to grow companies and achieve success. What separates the best from the rest of the crowd is that commitment and unflappable belief in themselves, their mission, and organization.