In another office.
Carrying another briefcase.
Those were the words of a wholesaler dying to swim out of The Sea of Sameness.
Our guest this week gives us straight talk about how to do just that.
Tim McCormick has created a proven Game Plan for success in the business world that focuses on the secrets that premiere professional athletes use to reach their highest goals and achieve career excellence.
Tim graduated from the University of Michigan and spent ten seasons in the NBA as a player. He was drafted by Cleveland with the #12 pick in the 1984 draft and was traded to Washington and then Seattle. Tim played for the Seattle Supersonics, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, and New York Knicks.
Tim has worked as a consultant with NBA players over the last two decades teaching strategies to improve performance and achieve greatness. He also runs the NBA Players Association’s TOP 100 Basketball Camp for the elite 100 high school players in the nation.
The Pro-Approach to Success
I am not quite sure why my wife wanted me to clean the attic, but with 20 years of marital experience, I have learned that certain battles just aren’t worth fighting — this was one of them.
The attic was cramped and dusty and when I opened the closest box I was immediately “transported” back into the 1970s like a time machine. The “treasure chest” contained thousands of baseball and basketball cards, haphazardly thrown into the large container. Cleaning the attic could wait. I found a comfortable spot and for the next two hours, I was a twelve-year-old boy again.
I was particularly interested in the basketball cards. I spent 10 seasons as a player in the NBA and had the opportunity to meet and compete against many of the legends from my card collection. I admired the pictures of Willis Reed and Bob Lanier. I reminisced about Kareem Abdul Jabaar’s sky-hook, the speed of Tiny Archibald and the trickery of Pete Maravich. Each card was essentially a 2-by-3-inch cardboard autobiography that told the story of big dreams and tremendous accomplishments.
The winning secrets of these basketball legends focused on a unique quality that I call the Pro-Approach. Millions of children worldwide grow up with the goal of playing professional basketball, and an incredibly small fraction of those NBA dreams become a reality. The key to the Pro-Approach is an aggressive and persistent mindset that allows only a select few to separate from the competition and take their games to the highest level. The winning approach necessary to compete and succeed in professional sports are the same skills necessary to fulfill any goal or dream. There are three Pro-Approach principles to help achieve a consistent level of excellence:
Big Producers Keep Growing
During my journey down memory lane, I found a Michael Jordan rookie card. In his first season in the NBA, he was regarded as a premier scorer that needed to diversify and balance his game. Each season, the competition would adjust to Jordan’s dominance, and he would sharpen his skills, eliminate flaws and add new elements. This drive for constant improvement powered Jordan to elite status and the recognition of being the greatest basketball player of all-time.
Hard work is the most basic building block of championship performance and serves as the primary catalyst for growth in professional sports and business. The key to improvement is a combination of increased efficiency and the continual development of new techniques and strategies. You cannot do the same things you’ve always done and expect better results.
I was excited to locate a vintage Bill Russell card during my ‘sorting-session’. I was reminded of an airport conversation with Mr. Russell in which he shared the extreme challenges he faced early in his basketball career. He was cut from the team in junior high and was devastated when he barely played as a 6’-5” sophomore on the JV. Before his junior season in high school, Russell’s career was at a crossroads, and he was in jeopardy of not making the varsity. His resilient behavior and a summer of hard work at the YMCA transformed him from an underachiever into a champion. Bill Russell led his teams to a California High School State Championship, two NCAA titles, an Olympic Gold Medal and eleven NBA titles in thirteen years with the Boston Celtics. He bounced back to become the greatest winner in the history of team sports.
Bounce-back ability is centered on a ‘next-play” attitude to analyze briefly, adjust and move forward without dwelling on past failures. You may fall, face disappointment and deal with frustration. It’s all part of the game. Bounce-back experts are resilient, and they use crisis and adversity as motivation to improve in the future.
The highlight of the “attic cleaning experience” was finding one of the prized possessions from my youth, a Julius Erving card from his days in the ABA. I was blessed to play with Dr. J during his last season with the 76ers, and I caught a glimpse into how he developed into one of the greatest legends in sports history. Doc benefitted from hitting the genetic lottery with tremendous size, skill and athletic ability. However, the trait that separated him from his peers was his play-making ability, both on and off the court. His dunking exploits and creative flair were the catalysts for the NBA’s merger with the ABA. He was a basketball ambassador that powered television ratings and made the NBA popular to mainstream sports fans. Julius was tenacious on the court, a role model off the court and the greatest playmaker of his era.
Playmakers possess an aggressive attitude focused on the constant pursuit of excellence. They play the game to win and possess a belief that they cannot be stopped. Too many people fail to capitalize on the ‘golden opportunities’ that life presents because they are not assertive, confident or willing to take a chance. You can achieve anything that you want, but no one will hand it to you. Go out take what is rightfully yours and that is success.
The basketball card memories from that day are special because they serve as a powerful reminder that life in professional sports is extremely competitive. NBA players are the very best in the world at their profession because they understand the value of hard work, bounce-back ability and a play-maker mindset. The Pro-Approach leads to a level of peak performance for pro athletes, and it can also work for you.
After two hours, my wife wanted to know if I was done with my job in the attic. I held the final stack of 50 cards in my hand, and I replied, “Perfect timing, I am just about finished.” The place was still a mess, but at least the basketball cards were separated, organized and stacked neatly. She said, “That’s great because I want your help cleaning the garage.”
Written by Tim McCormick