I had the opportunity to see former Sports Illustrated associate editor and eight-time New York Times best-selling author Don Yaeger speak recently at an event hosted by Accelerent, a business development platform.
Yaeger is an excellent story-teller who talked about “What Makes the Great Ones Great.”
He’s an expert, having spent many hours and written books with the likes of John Wooden, Walter Payton, John Smoltz, Jim Craig, Michael Oher, Warren Moon, Warrick Dunn and Tug McGraw to name a few. He’s even got a “Chasing Greatness” blog.
His overarching message was a Michael Jordan quote, “A loss is not a failure until you make an excuse.”
And, using his personal accounts from some of the greatest winners in sports, Yaeger has distilled 16 Characteristics of Greatness.
How they think
1. It’s Personal: They hate to lose more than they love to win.
2. Rubbing Elbows: They understand the value of association.
3. Believe: They have faith in a higher power.
4. Contagious Enthusiasm: They are positive thinkers. They are enthusiastic…and that enthusiasm rubs off.
How they prepare
5. Hope for the best, but… they prepare for all possibilities before they 6. step on the field.
7. What Off-Season? They are always working towards the next game. The goal is what’s ahead, and there’s always something ahead.
8. Visualize Victory: They see victory before the game begins.
Inner Fire: They use adversity as fuel.
How they work
9. Ice in their veins: They are thoughtful risk-takers and don’t fear making mistakes.
10. When all else fails: They know how and when to adjust their game.
11. The Ultimate Teammate: They will assume whatever role is necessary for the team to win.
12. Not just about the Benjamins: They don’t play just for the money.
How they live
13. Do Unto Others: They know character is defined by how they treat those who cannot help them.
14. When no one is watching: They are comfortable in the mirror. They live their life with integrity.
15. When everyone is watching: They embrace the idea of being a role model.
16. Records are made to be broken: They know their legacy isn’t what they did on the field. They are well-rounded.
And a final quote from Yaeger: “I hope that people who see me speak understand that greatness is available to all of us.”