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-I'm stepping into a new phase with business, and it's still helping me accomplish many of the same goals I wanted to accomplish in the community, and it's stimulating my senses and my intellect. So it's fantastic when you have a vision about what you want to do, who you want to be, and understand that all of it is-- if you have gifts, use them. Use them in every single area you can. Use them in your marriage, use them at work, use those gifts in a way that will benefit people, and it will pay off in the long run.
-I have a question. Did you not like basketball during high school?
-I would say-- I wouldn't say during high school. My first two years of college, I would say. I did not like basketball. It was my scholarship, it was my opportunity to go to school. So I certainly felt a responsibility to my school. But I didn't think going to practice every day was particularly fun and beating my body up every day was particularly fun. And at that point, I was not great. I was marginal. So I put in a lot of time, and a lot of energy, and a lot of work, and wasn't getting a lot of wonderful feedback yet. So yes, it was a challenge for a little stretch there, playing basketball. But it was also a wonderful opportunity. It got me into a wonderful school and it opened some doors for me, so I continued to pursue it.
-So where do you get this work ethic from? Where did you get this idea, because you really became a believer in the Christian faith basically during your rookie year. I mean, that's when it became very intense for you. But even during college, your work ethic is somewhat legendary. The idea that you would at least apply yourself all the time. What is that, where does that come from?
-I hate to admit it, but I think more fear than anything else. Just fear of failure. I wanted to be great at something, at anything. I felt like I had a lot of abilities, but I wasn't making the most of those abilities. And I know a lot of people probably feel that way. They feel like, I'm just not taking advantage of what I have. And when you have gifts, you have opportunities, and you've squandered some of those opportunities, it presses in your mind more that you need to figure out a way to be better.
-Lee Cockerell, the guy who used to run Walt Disney World Resorts and their management training, he said that fear was one of his motivators, too. He just said he wanted-- his mother had been married numerous times, and he basically was kind of raised in somewhat of a way where he wanted to prove that he was worthy. He had sort of this fear, and he had some insecurities there. So it doesn't really matter where we get the work ethic from, but we need one.
-And maybe fear is a little bit of a strong word. I think one of the great things for me was I was never afraid of people or the circumstance. I was afraid that I would not reach my potential. And I never wanted to be the reason I don't reach my potential. So in that sense, the fear of failure, the fear of not becoming what I'm supposed to become, was really my driver.
I can relate to what Lee Cockerell said because most certainly, when I stepped out there on the court, I did not want to be the weakest guy, the smallest guy. I remember my freshman year in college, I read the Washington Post and the newspapers had an article about me and said-- it was about the team. But it said this young 6'7 freshman that Navy has shows some promise, but at times he's painfully frail, and he looks like a swizzle stick in a blender.
-That's what they said?
-That's what they said. So I cut the article out and I taped it on my board and I said no one will ever call me a swizzle stick in a blender ever again. So for me, that was a motivation. I did not want to be that guy. So I worked a little bit out of, just that-- I hate to say fear, because fear is not a great motivator, necessarily. But I did not want to be that guy. And I knew I had the ability to change it.
-People don't realize, and I did not realize until talking to you about it earlier, that you are one of the more slender centers. I mean, you were giving up weight to Hakeem Olajuwon.
-Absolutely. To everyone.
-How many pounds were you giving?
-Hakeem was probably 260, and I was 230. So for my first eight years in the league, every year I came in at 235. So I'm 235, most of those centers, Patrick's at 255, 260, Hakeem's at 255, 260. Then you've got the bigger guys like Shaq who's at three something. I don't know exactly what he has, but he was three something. So he was maybe 100 pounds more than me. And so I had to work out. The fear of going out there and getting embarrassed by any of these guys made me say, I'm going to prepare myself as well as I
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-What if I'm watching this, and I go, uh oh, I have a bad work ethic. I know somebody watching this right now is saying this. They're saying, our company has a bad work ethic. As a leader, I've created this culture where-- it's not good, it's not great, it's not great, it's maybe just OK. What's maybe an action step or something I could do to start-- If I take ownership of it and say, man I'm naturally a little bit lazy. What can we do if we want to get serious? Do we need to find an accountability partner?
- Absolutely, accountability is the big key. There has to be something, or someone, that keeps driving you and helping you get to where you want to get. I had the Naval Academy. I had that constant poke and prod in my side saying, get up, get up, go do this, go do that. And so I learned how to be disciplined through college. They made me get up at 5 o'clock in the morning and go down to the AstroTurf field and run and do the things that I didn't want to do. They made me, every hour on the hour, keep track of every second. You have three minutes to get your room clean, be back out here in the hallway.
So you went through that process and they helped me be more disciplined. So that was my accountability partner. It was college. But, certainly, you could find people in your life that can help you be accountable. People who are around you, people who are better, or more disciplined, at whatever it is. In their work, in their job, who can help you be a better, and a more disciplined, person. And be willing to subject yourself to that. If you're an athlete, you find a coach. Well, I would suggest the same thing in a business setting. Find a coach.
-And we're not hard selling business coaching services, we're just being honest.
- I'm giving you a basic principle. I don't own any coaching services. I have no personal interest. I don't coach anybody. That's not what I do. But at the same time, you have to know yourself. And you have to know what you need. And if you don't have certain talents, that doesn't mean you can't be a leader, that doesn't mean you can't succeed. It just means you need to make up for that weakness with an external source.
-I don't know how much of it is luck, or how much of it is just how it worked out, but when you look at Kobe Bryant, and you look at Michael Jordan, both of them are phenomenal athletes. And they're both phenomenal work ethics, but they both really hadn't won a championship without Phil Jackson. And it seemed like that was the common link with both those guys. There's a lot of championships there. And I think everybody watching this says, we all need some sort of coach. And when you get married, then you have a new coach. And so the idea is that we all need some sort of coach to help us.
Now, George Washington Carver, though, he said this. He said, start where you are with what you have, make something of it and never be satisfied. Why is it important that we never get satisfied?
-We're never who we need to be. And as long as we're here on this Earth, we will never be who were supposed to be. We're limited by this body. We're only as good as this thing we carry around, right? And it's going to fade away, it's going to get weaker and weaker. We need to continue to grow, and we need to continue to push ourselves. We have these talents. You have to keep using them, you have to keep putting them to work.
It's a travesty. We can see it in our children, right? We send our children off to school and they don't want to go to class. You're wasting everything. You have this ability. Why would you waste it? Well, it's the same for us. Why would you waste what you have? There's things that you do well that nobody else can do well. Learn how to use those things in a way that benefits everybody. And it doesn't make sense for you to waste your talent.
-For somebody who might sit and watch this and say, well George Washington Carver sounds like a workaholic-- I don't think that way, but I'm just saying if I'm somebody who thinks that, how do you find the balance between never being satisfied and being a workaholic? Or do you even have this idea?
-Yeah, well, that's a great question. I think you find that balance because of the circumstances in your life.
-We always prioritize. We always know what's important by what's going on around us, right? If I have a family, if I have a wife-- you know the Bible's real clear about this. The Bible says it's better for you not to be merry. Why? Because you can devote yourself 100% to doing whatever you need to do.
But if you have a wife, then you spend half of your time really blessing her and building a family. Which is not a bad thing, it's just a requirement and it takes time, it takes commitment, right? So if we have a family, that's a lot of our energy. And we have to understand I want to be great at this, I want to spend time at this, I never want to be satisfied, but also half of me is in the family.
So I don't want to be satisfied in the family either. I want to continue to press. So you look at your circumstances and you work accordingly. What is important? My work is important, my family's important. That's where I put my energies.
-So if I'm watching this right now, and I own a small business, or if I worked for a small business, or if I'm the leader of a major corporation, or no matter what or who I am, if I can just wake up every day with the idea of exceeding the expectations of other people, I can-- it's kind of the sky's the limit almost.
-Absolutely. I think you need to-- once you define what your product is, you need to know how to exceed the expectations of the people that you're providing for. And yes, if you can get really good at that, the sky is the limit for you.
-Even if you're a first round draft pick. And that might mean going around and helping sell season tickets to your pro team without any extra compensation. And I think--
-No matter where you are, we're never too good and too great of a job to overdeliver and exceed the expectations of people.
-I learned that early on in the NBA. I came into the locker room and I thought OK, If I put up my 25 points and 12 rebounds, I've done my job. That's what they pay me for. But what you quickly realize is that there's more to it than that. You have to be a leader, guys are looking at you. They're saying, hey, can we follow this guy.
So some of your energy goes into building a team. I mean, that's part of it. Then the organization asks you hey, can you come and talk to the fans? Is that part of my job? OK.
And then there's other things that kind of come at it in there. So do you want to learn how to overdeliver in all of those areas?
-Did you get a bonus for helping mentor Tim Duncan?
-No, I didn't. You know what, that's a good-- I'll bring that up with Tim.
-I'm not sure who to collect that from anyway.
-Cause you know things you did though, that have made your team successful. And I think it's awesome that your a example of a guy who-- first round draft pick who's out there selling season tickets.
-Well I would say that I've gotten paid that back and more. So it's been a win-win.
-Awesome. Well if you overdeliver, you will be overpaid. And so David, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much, my friend.
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