As my book is progressing (I’ll disclose and reveal more details soon) around more than a dozen individual and team sports with professional coaches and athletes, I could not resist sharing the following nine powerful sports legends’ lessons that I learned early on in life thanks in part to my exceptional father, brother and first mentors in my life.
1. Muhammed Ali: “ Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
It amazes me to see over the years how this statement has echoed in my personal and professional life in the self-discovery of friendships that I offered, nurtured and kept despite so many challenges. I learned that by being positive, loyal, genuine, supportive and honest, this granted me access to some of the most profound life-long friendships with many exceptional people. Brilliant, Muhammed Ali!
2. Ayrton Senna: “ I have no idols. I admire work, dedication, and competence.”
This powerful statement from the legend Senna resonated early on in my life as well as today, due to the profound truth of an importance of doing the work, being dedicated and increasing competencies by learning. His winning attitude was hard to ignore and he repeated success race after race. The day he was killed in the Formula One race; I lost one of my first childhood idols and heroes. It was devastating!
3. Magic Johnson: “Talent is never enough. With few exceptions, the best players are the hardest workers.”
Johnson unleashed the Magic in my life, as I was a kid with huge eyes of wonder and curiosity. I watched his play while being fascinated by his speed, moves, jumps, smile and exceptional individual as well as team performance for the Los Angeles Lakers. His numerous books, including “My Life” and “32 Ways to be a Champion in Business” are excellent examples of his exceptional success and mindset in sports and business. He inspires greatness!
4. Pelé: “Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string. The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.”
These two quotes in my mind go hand in hand reflecting how important attitude and “inner game” are in addition to talents and overall physical performance to be consistently successful in sports and life. Further, it reflects well with the most difficult and challenging victories in our own life, that shaped us to be a better version of us today. Game on Pelé!
5. Michael Jordan: “It doesn’t matter if you win as long you give everything in your heart.”
Wow, this was a profound discovery that I apply in all that I do, regardless if some days are sunny or blue, my heart will get me through anything. The feeling of “I gave my all” leaves me without regrets at the end of the day regardless if I win or lose. I strongly believe that we need heart more than just pure talent to succeed in anything in life. Thank you, Mr. Jordan!
6. Vincent Lombardi: “The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.”
Recognizing players’ potential, and to know how to tap into their optimal performance consistently, was one of the best traits of Lombardi. This is what separates an “All Star” Coach from all other high-performing coaches across sports. Growing up in Europe, I did not watch NFL games or know much about the sport until I moved to the US and became exposed to Mike Haynes and Keith Lee. As a result, I learned not only to appreciate them in the business world but also as great NFL players and the overall sport of American Football. Go Broncos!
7. Branch Ricky: “It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you have been playing all your life.”
There is always room to improve and be even better today than yesterday. To continue to be a great player, you just have to take a chance and give it all that you have got! Branch Ricky changed the game of baseball not only by taking a chance but also by strongly standing for what he believed was the right thing to do. I am proud to be part of the Branch Ricky Award organization – Please Join Us!
8. Joe Sakic: “You need a lot of leaders, but a hockey team needs a voice, not only in the community but more importantly between the coaching staff and players. There are always ups and downs in a season, the captain is the guy players look to in those situations.”
It was magical to see Joe Sakic play with Peter Forsberg for the Colorado Avalanche. Lucky to be part of many Coloradans that had the opportunity to watch live some of the best individual and team hockey performances before their retirement.
9. Monica Seles: “It doesn’t matter who is playing or how old they are. I just worry about what I can control. It doesn’t give me more or less motivation.”
Growing up in former Yugoslavia, I was exposed to Monica’s early professional tennis beginnings. I was so proud of her and the change in our country where more female athletes finally were given a chance to share the stage with fellow male athletes. Watching Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, as well as Goran Ivanišević in addition to Steffi Graf and Seles, allowed the fans across the globe to watch and learn from some of the best tennis matches and players in tennis history.
Massive success to you on your journey as a transformational leader!
Leave a Legacy – A Legacy That Matters!
Be a Legend – Your Legendary Way!
Learn… Lead… Love… Izabela Lundberg (@IzabelaLundberg) is CEO and Founder of Izabela Lundberg International. She is an Executive Consultant, Trainer & Speaker for Fortune 500 and Professional Athletes & Coaches. She is #1 International Best Selling Author & Leading Authority of Leadership Transformation From Fear to Greatness. Drawing on her extensive global business management, diversity, and high-performance impact expertise through her work with people from over 80 countries, Izabela also writes and speaks on topics such us Strategic Leadership & Influence, Legacy Leadership, & #HighPerformance #Impact.