Tuesday, June 18

Salt Lake City, June 14, 1998. One dribble, one push, one jump – Jordan’s legend was etched into history. The stage was set. His Airness floated the Chicago Bulls to a 6th title in 8 years with a buzzer-beating dagger.

This weekend, you have my permission to binge on Netflix. No, Netflix is not always a thief of time. Pick either the family-friendly “Beckham” or Micheal Jordan’s “The Last Dance”. These two documentaries are extraordinarily splendid. Primarily how they serve lessons on leadership.  

The dance of greatness unfolds in 10 captivating acts. It follows Michael Jordan’s unrelenting pursuit of excellence. The brilliance that defined an iconic era in basketball folklore. There are moments when the documentary feels like a Shakespearean drama.

Similarly, David Beckham rockets from obscurity! A working-class lad from East London soars into athletic excellence and pop culture influence. In an intimately crafted four-part portrait. The documentary peers behind the glitzy veneer of a British establishment.


The median age of the 2.5 billion people projected in the next two decades will be 19 years. Africa will have a large, dynamic pool of talent that will become leaders in any field and consumers of sports.

For the next generation of excellent Africans to dominate global sport. Here are 7 lessons from the captain and the GOAT:

  1. Follow Your Vision Relentlessly

Both Beckham and Jordan were dogged in pursuing their vision. Beckham had a dream as a footballer. To play for and win trophies with Manchester United. Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He honed his skills tirelessly until he became the undisputed greatest of all time.

Leaders must have a bold dream they believe in fully.

2. Learn from Wise Mentors

But pursuing bold visions requires more than just relentless drive. As Jordan and Beckham showed, wise mentors guide the path. Sir Alex Ferguson instilled in Beckham a rigorous work ethic and a winning mentality. Likewise, coach Phil Jackson imparted Jordan with the seeds on mindfulness and team building. That elevated his game.

Be humble. Seek respected mentors who can provide wisdom and perspective.

3. Leave the Prima Donna Act Behind
Once equipped with tireless work ethics, the greats then displayed humility. Beckham was known for his humility. Jordan showed up early, stayed late, and maintained a relentless work ethic.

    The best leaders remain grounded in service to the team.

    4. Tune Out Naysayers
    Staying grounded was crucial. Since towering figures often attract haters. But as Jordan and Beckham demonstrated they never let outside noise distract them from their excellence. They let their work ethic and results speak for themselves.

    As a leader – stay focused on your vision and goals.

    5. Lead by Example

    Beckham never asked teammates to do anything he wouldn’t do himself on the pitch. Jordan was known for being the first at practice, setting the tone for excellence.

      Demonstrate the qualities and culture you want to see. Your team will follow.

      6. Learn how to work the Press.

      The Press is like a pride of lions on the Serengeti. They lay in wait to viciously take down their next gazelle. Ruthlessness is encoded in their DNA – one misstep, and they’ll pounce to tear flesh from bone. They will sink their teeth into any scandal or controversy and shake their prey violently before a bloodthirsty public.

      Throw red meat occasionally to keep them satisfied. But never let them smell blood.

      7. Master the Art of Celebrity

      While lighting up scoreboards, Jordan and Beckham were also keenly aware of their status. Carefully controlling public access, they shaped aspirational narratives. Licensing deals and sponsorships leveraged their influencer status, branding diverse products.

        Convert talent into enduring cultural and commercial success.

        Ovations subside, echoes of glories will pass, but the ripples of their impact continue to grow. Let Jordan’s uncompromising work ethic drive you up. And Beckham’s daring vision pulls you higher. The captain and the GOAT offer many parallels in leadership applicable far beyond football and basketball. Carry their resilient vision, humility, connection, focus, and leading by example into your pursuits and watch the wins stack up. The game recognizes the game. Jordan and Beckham are legends.

        What do you think?

        1. Which lesson from Jordan and Beckham’s leadership playbooks resonates most deeply with you, and why?
        2. What other legendary sports figures demonstrate the leadership abilities highlighted here? Share your examples.
        3. How do you think aspirational young athletes today can carry forward the lessons of these icons?
        4. In what ways have you seen leaders in your own field or domain model themselves after Beckham and Jordan?
        5. What similarities or differences do you see between American and international sports celebrities in how they build their brands?

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