Learn about failure, self-reliance, and the will to succeed from a true winner – Michael Jordan in 30 quotes

17th Feb 2017
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How does one become the face of the NBA after being deemed too short to play? An impressive growth spurt can only buy one a place on the team, but Michael Jordan, then a teenager for whom simply getting on the varsity team wasn’t anywhere near enough and who was completely oblivious to mediocrity, had the intent of proving himself. And so, his journey began.

Image credits: mccarmona23

Just one month into his professional career with NBA, his potential caught attention as ‘A Star is Born’ made the cover of Sports Illustrated. He quickly became one of the best defensive players in the history of basketball. This rise in his career, however, didn’t happen without encounters with rivals. Many veteran players, jealous of the attention he was receiving, enacted a ‘freeze-out’ on him and refused to pass him the ball. Despite such opposition, Jordan’s performance remained unaffected as he went on to be voted Rookie of the Year for the 1984-85 season.

Jordan’s love for the game, and a spirit that was reaching out for excellence, has been unaffected even by physical injuries. He missed 64 games after he broke his foot in a game but returned soon enough to prove that his head was still in the game. And sure enough, in what is still considered the greatest game in NBA history, he set the still-unbroken record of 63 ppg (points per game) against the Boston Celtics team.

Jordan became known to the whole world as a name to aspire to, and a person to look up to, quite literally as well. There is much to learn from this man, from passion to perseverance. Here are 30 quotes that offer a peek into the mind of this survivor:

  1. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
  2. “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.”
  3. Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
  4. “I've always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.”
  5. “Every time I feel tired while I am exercising and training, I close my eyes to see that picture, to see that list with my name. This usually motivates me to work again.”
  6. “The best come from the worst.”
  7. “If you quit once it becomes a habit. Never quit!”
  8. “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.”
  9. “The game has its ups and downs, but you can never lose focus of your individual goals and you can’t let yourself be beat because of lack of effort.”
  10. “Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again.”
  11. “You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”
  12. “The minute you get away from fundamentals – whether it’s proper technique, work ethic or mental preparation – the bottom can fall out of your game, your schoolwork, your job, whatever you’re doing.
  13. “I realized that if I was going to achieve anything in life I had to be aggressive. I had to get out there and go for it.”
  14. “I know fear is an obstacle for some people, but it is an illusion to me. Failure always made me try harder the next time.”
  15. “Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night.”
  16. “My father used to say that it’s never too late to do anything you wanted to do. And he said you never know what you can accomplish until you try.”
  17. “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”
  18. “Learning’s a gift, even when pain is your teacher.”
  19. “You have competition every day because you set such high standards for yourself that you have to go out every day and live up to that.”
  20. “It’s heavy duty to try to do everything and please everybody. My job was to go out there and play the game of basketball as best I can. People may not agree with that. I can’t live with what everyone’s impression of what I should or what I shouldn’t do.”
  21. “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
  22. “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.”
  23. “Everybody has talent, but ability takes hard work.”
  24. “My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”
  25. “Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”
  26. “I would tell players to relax and never think about what’s at stake. Just think about the basketball game. If you start to think about who is going to win the championship, you’ve lost your focus.”
  27. “To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish. Stay reachable. Stay in touch. Don’t isolate.”
  28. “I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot…When you think about the consequences you will always think of the negative result.”
  29. “One day, you might look up and see me playing the game at 50. Don't laugh. Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”
  30. “Make it happen.”
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