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'Everyone wanted to be like Michael Jordan. Mike did not want to be like anyone else': Tim Grover, author and trainer to Jordan and Kobe Bryant

In ‘Winning: The Unforgiving Race to Greatness’, Tim Grover writes that winners see themselves as different from others, and can stop fear from growing into “uncontrollable doubt”

May 15, 2021 / 10:04 AM IST
File image of Michael Jordan (left) and Kobe Bryant (right) chatting during the 52nd NBA All-Star game in 2003. (Image: Reuters)

File image of Michael Jordan (left) and Kobe Bryant (right) chatting during the 52nd NBA All-Star game in 2003. (Image: Reuters)

Tim Grover, a fitness industry CEO, got degrees in exercise science and kinesiology from the University of Illinois-Chicago, and then started sending letters to players of the Chicago Bulls, the No. 1 basketball franchise at the time.

No one responded to his approaches. Except Michael Jordan.

Jordan was not just the best player at the Bulls, he was the best player in the world, and a cultural and commercial supernova. Everybody wanted his time. So he gave the young graduate 30 days to show him results.

‘His Airness’ liked what he saw, what he became under Grover, and the two men worked together for 15 years. In the time that Grover was his physical trainer, Jordan won six NBA championship rings.

Grover, who also worked with Kobe Bryant, has progressed from letters and written a book, Winning: The Unforgiving Race to Greatness. In it, the man who does not believe in facile "5 rules to success" has given his own type of motivational advice.

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Grover suggests constantly tweaking your practice methods as you grow. This applies to different fields, it can be assumed.

“There are no steps. I can’t say, ‘Here are the five steps to get into the zone,’ or the '10 steps to success’,” Grover told CNBC Make It. “Those steps are infinite and they’re constantly changing. I needed to prove myself over and over again because the routine I used for MJ (Jordan) is not the routine that I’m going to use for you. Everyone has different needs.”

More importantly, Grover said that winners don’t want to emulate others beyond a point, and when they face doubt or nerves, they draw strength from the preparation they have put in.

“Everyone wanted to be like Mike. Mike did not want to be like anyone else,” Grover writes in his book. “Before every game, you’d see MJ alone, head down, chewing his gum, having a private conversation with himself. He felt the same nerves you might feel before you’re about to face a challenge. But he never doubted that he would perform at his best.”

In other words, Grover said that when winners face fear, they counter that by thinking about all the preparation and work they’ve put in. They don’t allow their fear to escalate into uncontrollable doubt.

Prudent advice for any hour, and more so during a global crisis that has affected livelihoods, prospects and morale.

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