Although he wasn’t my favorite, Michael Jordan is generally held as the greatest player to ever lace up a pair of sneakers on the basketball floor. Evidence of this fact is that the “Air Jordan” sneakers are probably the best selling basketball shoe of all time, thanks to the legion of fans that want to “Be like Mike”. Being the “hater” that I am, I was an ardent L. A. Lakers and Ervin “Magic” Johnson fan. As such, I have never owned a pair of “Air Jordan” sneakers. My favorite basketball shoes are the vintage “Chuck Taylor” Converse sneakers I was proud to wash in Clorox bleach until they were as white as snow as a child.
These things aside, there is one thing I found undeniably great about “Air Jordan” as a basketball player. Jordan never seemed to feel like he lost a basketball game; there were only games that he didn’t win. Like many people who are extremely successful, Jordan would accept defeat only inasmuch as his team did not perform to the best of their ability. In Jordan’s mind, they were never beaten by a better team.
Mind you, Jordan was always gracious with the media and sportsmanlike in his remarks, but he made it clear that they didn’t lose, they just didn’t win. While this appears to be a play on words, the message is losing was never a result for Jordan; it seemed to be a temporary situation that would be corrected the next time the Chicago Bulls played a game; and it typically was.
In business and in life, we must “be like Mike” when considering temporary setbacks or defeats and commit to correct these situations the next time we face this challenge. We must own the fact that sometimes the clock will run out on a situation before we get a chance to mount a comeback to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. However, we cannot buy the fact that this was the proper outcome. When we begin to believe that coming up short of victory is the proper result for our effort, we become like many other “also-ran” players that never become great.
Sure, Michael Jordan was an incredible athlete with remarkable skills; however there are bunches of 6’6”, 210 lb. players in the NBA that can play really well. But there are very few with the mindset that believes each time they step on the court, they are “supposed” to win the game.
We must own our setbacks without buying that losing was the correct result. This mindset will cause us to double our efforts to ensure that next time things turn out like they are supposed to.