Earlier this month, the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team was sold by Herb Kohl for $550 million. What’s interesting was that in 2003, Michael Jordan was interested in investing in both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Bobcats. However, for his $50 million, neither organization would give him managerial control.
So, Jordan passed on the opportunity to invest in either. However, over the following seven years, the Bobcats imploded and Jordan was able to purchase the entire team for $175 million in 2010. Since then, with full managerial control, Jordan has turned around the Bobcats team (the team made the playoffs this year for just the second time in history). As a result, the value of Jordan’s investment has gone way up. In fact, it’s most likely considerably higher than the $550 million just paid for the Bucks.
So what is it about Michael Jordan that’s made him succeed in both sports and business?
My answer: Preparation and Practice
According to the book "How To Be Like Mike: Life Lessons About Basketball's Best," as a player, Michael Jordan's practice habits and conditioning regimen amounted to an "almost alarming harshness."
In fact, many experts, such as Florida State University professor K. Anders Ericsson, argue that practice continually trumps talent.
Prominent examples of success attributed to continuous practice besides Michael Jordan include:
- Bobby Fischer: While Fischer became a chess grandmaster at the young age of 16, he had nine years of intensive study and practice beforehand.
- Warren Buffet: Buffet is known for his extreme discipline and the significant time he devotes to analyzing the financial statements of organizations in which he considers investing.
- Winston Churchill: Churchill is widely considered one of the 20th century's best speakers. Historians say he compulsively practiced his speeches.
- Tiger Woods: Tiger developed rigorous practice routines from an extremely young age, and devoted hours upon hours each day to conditioning and practice in order to improve his performance.
As you can see, and as is pretty intuitive, preparation and practice are keys to success in sports. And in business, it’s the same.
Consider these examples that entrepreneurs often face:
- Developing your business plan? Make sure you prepare the right information. Conduct solid market research to ensure your market opportunity and strategy are sound.
- Giving a presentation to an investor or prospective client? Be sure to spend significant time preparing. Make sure you develop the right slides. Make sure you practice it and deliver it smoothly. Make sure you’ve anticipated the questions that might arise, and have answers for each.
- Meeting with an employee to improve their performance? Make sure to prepare your list of items in which they are doing a good job, and a list for which they must improve. Practice delivering the information and prepare answers for questions they might ask.
- Holding a company-wide meeting? Make certain you have a clear agenda. Prepare an outline to follow and a list of key points you need to get across. Practice delivering your presentation to get the greatest impact.
Importantly, for these and other business situations, think about your goals. What is the goal of developing your business plan? What is your goal of presenting to an investor or prospective customer? And so on. Having these goals clearly in mind when you prepare and practice ensures you prepare for the right outcomes.
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Perfect practice means you’ve done your preparation, for instance, learned what perfection is. And both on the sports field and in your business, doing the right preparation and practice will pay significant dividends. So, be sure to make preparation and practice a part of your daily routine.