Michael Jordan : I failed, that is why I succeed

Tom McCallum
3 min readMay 10, 2018

I love this quote from Michael Jordan, as it speaks to “Deliberate Practice”, a topic I wrote about yesterday, focussed on golf and Ben Hogan, as well as looking to prompt readers to consider where they are deliberate in what they do, whether it be in their personal life or at work, in what they do personally or what they guide and lead their people to do.

So, to “MJ” or #23". Oh, and I’ll come back to that quote at the end of this post to reflect on perhaps his greatest success.

Who is Michael Jordan ? Simply the greatest basketball player of all time. Hmm.. my sons love basketball, and my oldest son Alex is constantly ribbing me with highlight reels to make his point that LeBron James is actually the “GOAT” (the Greatest Of All Time), when he knows as well as I do that Michael Jordan, the original #23, is THE GOAT. #Endof. I smile at such moments as I reflect that I gave him the middle name… Jordan !

So, back to “Deliberate Practice”. I know I have always had this in me, I find something to focus upon and love to work hard to improve. At 15 it was golf, then when I was 17 I was at my last year of high school and two huge (6'8" at least!) pro players came to teach us. I was hooked ! For several years from that age my own focus of deliberate practice and still the sport I love to play the most was Basketball.

I was so fortunate to be learning and playing the game at the same time as Michael Jordan, less than two years older than me, was coming into his prime. I voraciously read and learned everything I could about Jordan, as well as watching tapes of his games (this was the days before wall to wall TV and the internet!).

Jordan was called “His Airness”, as he was so incredibly athletic than when asked if he could fly when he leaped in the air, he answered, “for a little while”. I was not athletic, but I had the asset of being able to commit totally to deliberate practice.

To me, it was not his athleticism that made Jordan the “GOAT”, it was his ferocious commitment to improvement throughout his career. He was legendary for how much he practiced, how hard he practiced, how he led his team by example. As I followed his career (and ever since) I have always looked to learn from that and model it.



Tom McCallum

Sounding Board for Visionary Leaders ready to make a Massive Impact. Daily posts here, or https://tommccallum.com/newsletter-sign-up/