10 Inspirational Quotes from Michael Jordan About Success (and the Value of Perseverance)

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan 1997Michael Jordan is considered by many as the greatest basketball player that ever played the game. I for one am not that big of a sports fan. However my husband and boys are, specially basketball.

Of all the athletes that I’ve seen, the one that stands out is Michael Jordan.

He was the only one who could transcend his sport into mainstream.

Maybe it was his charisma, maybe it was his talent. Or maybe it was all of that plus his mentality.

Here are some Michael Jordan quotes that give us a glimpse of his ‘mental game’.


10 Quotes from Michael Jordan to Motivate You and Help You Succeed


On Taking Action…

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”


The Takeaway: Stop sitting on your behind and take action.

We’ve all been in that position where we want something to happen or have a goal but never seem to get started on working on it.

I’m a big fan of ABC’s Shark Tank. Maybe because part of me always dreams of being able to make my own successful business so I’d never have to work for anyone else again.

Of course there are some really exceptionally smart people who try to get the “sharks” to invest in their companies. Those geniuses are out my reach, I know that.

But the rest of the time you see people like you and I. Moms, dads, or employees who are looking to make it on their own. And often the products they present are things that solved problems in their lives. Not much different from us.

The difference however, is that they did something about their ideas.

It’s the same about thinking about losing weight or getting fit. We always want to get there but many times find ourselves sitting around hoping it would happen on its own.


On Failure…

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”


The Takeaway: Never be afraid to go for it.

Sometimes the thought of failure or being called one by others, because something we tried didn’t work, is enough to keep us from even trying.

This is what sets people like Jordan apart.

Just imagine…

At the time he announced his retirement (the first time), Jordan was the biggest basketball player in the planet. And probably the biggest sports figure in the world as well.

What did he trade high tops for? Baseball.

Not having played baseball since high school, he was going to try to make the Major Leagues as a pro baseball player.

Everyone knew he was going to fail. I’m sure even he knew he wasn’t going to succeed. At least not during the first year he played.

But that never stopped him.

He never let the scrutiny, the media, the people laughing and calling it a joke stop him from what he wanted to do.

He went out and tried. And tried with 100% effort.


On Knowing the Fundamentals…

“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.”


The Takeaway: Working hard isn’t enough. You need to work smart as well.

Michael Jordan is well known for his vicious work ethic. He never let up.

But what set him apart from those just as talented and those that worked just as hard (though only a handful did), was his fundamentals.

He learned from the best, his coach at the University of North Carolina, the legendary NCAA coach Dean Smith. There Jordan learn the very basics of the game and never forget.

It’s the same as trying to lose weight or get fit and toned but following the wrong diet or workout. You can be the most religious person when it comes to following your meal plans, but what if the meal plans weren’t correct?

Or what if you were eating the wrong foods?

You’d probably lose just a fraction of weight you should have or none at all.


On Leadership…

“I’ve missed more than 9000 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.”


The Takeaway: Don’t let failure deter you from getting better.

Nobody’s perfect. Even the best of them make mistakes. The thing is never to let your mistakes or failures keep you from going after your goals.

Sometimes, the goal is just around the corner but you need to take a couple of steps back to learn to more forward.

This is a lesson is perseverance as well. In that we should know how to learn from our mistakes and come back even better. Until one day we achieve what we’ve been aiming for.

This is a road that anyone who’s been trying to lose weight goes on. The scale doesn’t give you the figure you want each time, but you keep on going and adjust your meals and workouts.

In learning from the weeks where you don’t lose weight, you get better in understanding what your body wants so you can achieve better results later on.


On Optimism…

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”


The Takeaway: Always look at the positive side of things.

Some people like looking at situations with the “glass is half empty” attitude.

What I’ve noticed is that people who succeed, whether it is in life, sports, losing weight or achieving the body they want are those who look at negative situations from a “glass is half full” point of view.

I’ll always remember the story of former New York Michael Bloomberg. He was a big star on Wall Street. Already a partner by his mid-30’s for one of the top investment banks he was suddenly fired because he didn’t get along the new CEO.

Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he thought of how it would feel to start over without a job. That’s when he built his company Bloomberg, which is now the leading data provider for financial institutions and what made Bloomberg a billionaire many times over.


On Integrity…

“Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. That’s truly about the game, and in some ways that’s about life too.”


The Takeaway: Stop taking shortcuts.

We all like taking shortcuts. It’s easier, it takes less time to get where we want to go.

The problem with shortcuts is that we make compromises on quality. This is true whether you’re trying to build a product or trying to achieve your health goals.

It’s always easier to go after the next hot diet that will help you lose 20 lbs. in 2 weeks, rather than fixing it so you get the proper nutrition from your meals and cut out the unnecessary calories.

It may take longer and you’ll see the pounds come off at a slower but steadier pace. More importantly though, you’ll be able to sustain that weight loss and be heathier then.

Jordan never took shortcuts, whether it was is basketball or in baseball. He put in the hours of practice before and after games to make sure that he always got better.


On Trying…

“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.”


The Takeaway: It’s never too late to try.

We’ve all made the excuse, “it’s too late to…”

In doing so, we don’t even try at all.

The funny thing about timing is that you never know when the right time for you is. No one ever does. And I’ve also learned that there’s often no such thing as “the right time”… for anything.

Age shouldn’t be something we use as a road block that keeps us from doing things we’d like to try.

One great example of this is Colonel Sanders. We all know his chicken, but did you know that…

It was only in 1952, at the age of 62 when Harland Sanders (his real name) started KFC, after years of doing a variety of jobs and running different businesses. We all know how big KFC is today.

Another “late bloomer” is none other than Ray Kroc, who’s McDonald’s golden arches can be seen everywhere.

Born, in 1902, it wasn’t until 1954 where he joined McDonald’s, before buying out its original owners in 1961.

These are just a few great examples of never saying it’s too late to do anything.


On Always Giving it Your All…

“Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night.”


The Takeaway: Always put 100% effort in what you do.

We’re all human.

Because of that, our emotions affect how hard we work depending on the results we get.

When things go our way we’re more motivated and work harder.

But when things don’t go in our favor, we often feel discourage and let up on effort.

The lesson in Jordan’s quote is that whether you achieve good results or not, 100% effort has to always be there. In fact, with people like Jordan, when things don’t go their way they work harder.

One example of this was when Jordan was cut from his high school varsity team. He was devastated.

But that drove him to work harder. And with the help of a big growth spurt, he came back the next year and starred for that same high school varsity team.

His hard work was rewarded in not only making the team and starring for it, but also being offered a scholarship to the University of North Carolina to play basketball.


On Confidence…

“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.”


The Takeaway: You need to believe in yourself.

We always hear the phrase, “you have to believe in yourself first before others will believe in you.”

This is in line with what Jordan’s message is.

If you don’t believe you can do it, you’re probably not going to be able to handle what you set out to do.

The mind has a funny way of working where it gives you that extra motivation and ability make things happen.

The other thing about believing in yourself brings is the confidence when you do things, plus that willingness to keep searching for a solution.


On Determination…

“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But 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.”


The Takeaway: Solve whatever’s blocking you from your goals and dreams.

In everything we do, there will always be hurdles. Whether it was school, raising kids, relationships or work.

But just because these roadblocks appear doesn’t mean that we just call it quits and give up.

Instead, finding a solution to whatever is keeping your from achieving your goals is what makes us better.

I remember seeing Jordan struggle during his first 3 years just trying to get the Chicago Bulls past the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Once he figured that out then came the ‘Bad Boys’ Detroit Pistons who between 1987 to 1990 wouldn’t let the Jordan and the Bulls get to the NBA finals.

Finally, after 7 years of struggling through teams and getting better from it, Jordan lifted his first of many NBA championships.

The lesson, at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up. In fact, keep coming back harder.


What’s Your Favorite Motivational Quote by Michael Jordan?

It’s been 12 years since Michael Jordan last played an NBA game, yet he’s still called the G.O.A.T., “Greatest of All Time”.

All the things we did were based on the principles that made him the best at what he did. And we can learn a lot that will make us better at anything we do.

Tell us what’s the best quote by Jordan for you?

image by: Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com via Wikimedia Commons