Leadership lessons from The Last Dance

I watched the The Last Dance on Netflix this past week and boy, it was absolutely worth it! It’s easily one of the best sports docuseries I’ve ever watched. Well done, ESPN for sharing this gift to the world. We so much needed this!

Trailer: “The Last Dance” 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls

The series not only goes deep into MJ’s (Michale Jordan’s) life as a sporting icon but also accentuates his passion, energy, and drive to lead Chicago Bulls to 6 championship victories. Most importantly, it highlights the human side of a person who the world literally considered to be Superman!

Now, I don’t know about you, but MJ has been my hero since I was 12! Even though, I wasn’t a basketball player! (Heck, my high school didn’t have a court!) His carisma and passion was contagious. So, much so that I begged and pleaded my school’s sports coach (for soccer and hockey) to change my jersey number to 23. And I persisted till I got it. (He didn’t get it though.)

Even back then (thanks to my dad for his teachings), I was convinced that greatness and leadership could not be limited to a single sport or discipline. Now that I teach leadership, I know from experience (mine and others) it cannot be contained and always transcends.

I’d planned to post on the leadership lessons I learned from watching the documentary but John Maxwell beat me to it. And since I’m part of his team, I want you to check out this fantastic teaching he’s put out for the world to see — the 6 key leadership lesson from the docuseries. This is gold! (If the video doesn’t play, scroll to the bottom for the direct link.)

Leadership Lessons from Michael Jordan

Here are the 6 key leadership lessons, in case, you don’t have time to watch it:

  1. MJ’s success was greater than his talent. He also proved that continual improvement leads to continual leading, which further leads to continual success. And all of that goes beyond MJ’s talents.
  2. The margin between winning and losing is very small but significant. The margin might as well be the edge but unless you keep pushing it, you’re never going to be successful. That’s what differentiate the good from the great.
  3. Mental toughness is the core of a champion! Becoming good requires a lot of effort. Greatness comes after one has spent years being consistent at being good. And that requires mental toughness, which isn’t for everyone. Heck, people burn out just staying on top of things!
  4. Losing greatness is an inside job. Just like John says, “the greatest leadership challenge is leading myself.” It resonates with me. Becoming great is a journey but keeping at it once you’ve reached that status is hard work.
  5. Be the example so people can safely follow you. I heard MJ say this several times while watching the series, “I never asked them to do what I didn’t do.”
  6. One is too small a number to achieve greatness. In my opinion, the most important moment in the entire series is the conversation between Phil Jackson and MJ — “I don’t anticipate you’re going to be the scoring champion in the league. The spotlight is on the ball. If you’re the guy that’s always going to have the ball, teams can generate a defense against that. That is what happened with the Pistons the last couple of years. I’m not worried about you. But we have to find other ways to make the other guys better. We have to create threats.” I believe this moment is what created the Chicago Bulls into the most iconic sports teams of the 90s.

If you loved these insights, you would love John’s teachings even more! And although watching the documentary isn’t a prerequisite, you’re better off doing it than not. Believe me, it’s the best invest you can make this year. Enjoy!

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