Michael Jordan, Blue Dunk, Lisle, IL, 1987

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

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player to have ever hit the hardcourt. He led the Chicago Bulls to six world championships. He will forever be remembered for the “Repeat of the Three-peat” and his impact on youth culture in the 90s was undeniable. We all wanted to be like Mike.

What many people fail to realize is that the path to greatness is paved with all sorts of mistakes and disappointments. His Royal Airness, of all people, fully recognized that failure is inevitable, but that is precisely why he kept trying. And trying harder. And always putting in the hours to improve his skills, strategies and abilities. Even when he may have doubted himself, he wanted to have the ball in his hands.

“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.

Success isn’t about never failing. Donald Trump has made more than his fair share of unfortunate business deals. Wayne Gretzky has lost his share of games. Bill Gates had more than a few unsuccessful product launches. You will fail. The key is learning from those failures, picking yourself back up, and having the tenacity to keep trying.

Far too many people get discouraged when they fail. That’s a normal human reaction to an unfortunate outcome. The people who are able to achieve great success still feel the pains of failure, but they don’t allow that pain to stagnate them. They use it as motivation. The failure invigorates and revitalizes them. They fall down, they miss, and they bleed, but they always get back up. And that’s exactly what Jordan did, time and time again.

“I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.”

Play the game because you love it, but always play to win. Even if you face an opponent who appears to be much greater than you, realize that impossible is nothing and play to win. You might lose, to be sure, but at least you can that you tried.