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I Can't Accept Not Trying: Michael Jordan on the Pursuit of Excellence

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Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to three NBA Championships. When he retired from professional basketball in 1993 he stunned the sports world by announcing his intention to begin a professional baseball career. 'I Can't Accept Not Trying' is Jordan's personal creed and a message for anyone who aspires to greater heights or grander dreams.

36 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1994

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About the author

Michael Jordan

120 books161 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads' database with this name.

Michael Jeffrey Jordan is a retired American professional basketball player and active businessman. His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.

After a stand-out career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he led the Tar Heels to a National Championship in 1982, Jordan joined the NBA's Chicago Bulls in 1984. He quickly emerged as a league star, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, illustrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line at Slam Dunk Contests, earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness". He also gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a "three-peat". Although Jordan abruptly retired from basketball at the beginning of the 1993–94 NBA season to pursue a career in baseball, he rejoined the Bulls in 1995 and led them to three additional championships (1996, 1997, and 1998) as well as an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 season. Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, but returned for two more NBA seasons in 2001 as a member of the Washington Wizards.

Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances, three All-Star Game MVP awards, ten scoring titles, three steals titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA records for highest career regular-season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average (33.4 points per game). In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press's list of athletes of the century. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame on April 6, 2009 and will be inducted in September 2009.

Jordan is also noted for his product endorsements. He fueled the success of Nike's Air Jordan sneakers, which were introduced in 1985 and remain popular today. Jordan also starred in the 1996 feature film Space Jam. He is currently a part-owner and Managing Member of Basketball Operations of the Charlotte Bobcats in North Carolina.

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5 stars
379 (46%)
4 stars
237 (29%)
3 stars
149 (18%)
2 stars
36 (4%)
1 star
6 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 79 reviews
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,754 reviews635 followers
September 2, 2022
Very unique look at what motivated MJ to excellence. Books like this can help you put your own challenges into context; there is no doubt that MJ overcame many obstacles that could have prevented him from achieving the greatness he did. A wonderful gift for a young child who wants to play basketball - will help to motivate them to reach their own goals.
Profile Image for Viole.
82 reviews21 followers
May 28, 2020
Un libro conciso, directo y claro. Después de ver la serie The last dance, uno entiende más a profundidad esta mentalidad que tiene Jordan, que justo fue la que lo llevó a lograr todos sus éxitos.
Cosas muy simples pero que a veces perdemos de vista y que con este pequeño libro recuerdas.
50 reviews
June 10, 2010
This book is about Michael Jordan's life as a professional athlete and all of the hard work that goes into performing to your fullest potential. Michael talks about his hard work and how without it he wouldn't have ever been as good as he was without the hard work he put in. He talks about how he played in games and what kind of player he was.
I can connect this book to Michael Strahan's biography because both people are serious and famous athletes. Also in Strahan's bio he talks about all the hard work and injury that he had to go through just like Michael Jordan. Plus both of their names are Michael.
I enjoyed the book because I like to play sports, and basketball isn't my game but usually all sports books are similare in terms of hard work and dedication. I would give this book a 4 because it wasn't that long but it was really use full in terms of tips and ideas for sports in general. I would recommend this book to anyone who plays sports and for people ages 10 to 14 because it isn't a hard read.
Profile Image for Christopher Goins.
93 reviews19 followers
December 26, 2014
Michael Jordan softly addresses why so many people are unsuccessful: they expect to perform better than they perform in practice. I say softly, instead of harshly, because he does, even though he had every right not to be. He could have been tougher. But the MJ we get from this book is the same MJ we get in Pat Williams’ book “How to Be Like Mike”: Michael Jordan the gentle basketball giant. I suggest that one should read the longer book by Williams first before picking up this book.

On a personal note, after reflecting on this book, I also see how I have made excuses for myself in high school as a track athlete—a track athlete with some decent times when at my peak. I can do nothing about those lost opportunities now. But I can at least learn from my experiences and apply it to my professional life. There are tons of things you can take from this book and apply it to yourself. Michael is very encouraging.

Michael is very quotable in this book, but you will have to pick up this book for yourself to figure out why.
Profile Image for Monika.
19 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2020
Sometimes I feel that Universe is helping me. Why am I saying this? I had some questions in my mind and this small book gave me answers. In this 36 page book, Michael Jordan gave every answers that every human being in his mind. About Goals, Fear, Commitment, Teamwork, Challenges and soon. He emphasized more on fundamentals. If your fundamentals are strong, you can accomplish everything by using it. He also said that work on yourself, never feel any fear to accomplish your goals. By sheer hard work and dedication, each human being achieve his goals.

I want to conclude this by his quote: ONCE I MADE A DECISION, I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT AGAIN.
Profile Image for Alberto Jacobo Baruqui.
232 reviews7 followers
March 5, 2018
Uno de mis grandes ejemplos de grandeza, superación y sencillez en el triunfo. Sin duda el mejor jugador de BasketBall y uno de los mas grandes deportistas de todos los tiempos. Incomparable en su momento histórico.
Un libro sencillo y bien definido por pasos.
Sin estos simples pasos no hay forma de lograr los objetivos mayores. AJB
10 reviews
March 11, 2012
I read this book about 10 years ago, then lent it and never got it back. Finally I have the chance to own it again and it feels like I just read it yesterday.

Small book with lots of wisdom.
Profile Image for Omar Villafane.
173 reviews3 followers
March 8, 2021
Not a man of many words because everything he says has so much truth and power. Great read 🔋🦾♾
Profile Image for Janette Pincle.
91 reviews6 followers
January 3, 2021
La perfección y el triunfo no son natas y quién mejor que Jordan para contarnos su camino.
Cuando yo nací el estaba en su gran época ,nunca lo ví jugar porque era una bebé , pero su poder y magia llegó a mi generación y espero llegué a muchas más...
Profile Image for Marco Sobreira.
14 reviews
August 11, 2020

Michaeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel Jooooooordan !!! Yes Let's talk about it. This book is not a biography, but a book of Principles. Short, 80 pages, but very useful and striking.

Goals, hard work, teamwork, fear, fundamentals and leadership. These are the subjects that Michael deals with in a simple and direct way, with comments from Bernardinho (Portuguese version).

Bernardinho's introduction is interesting, as he tries to show Jordan behind the star. He writes that he read a book by Mike Krzyzewski, Couch k, that counted a passage when he was part of the coaching team of Dream Team, and Michael, already a star at the time, asked him for help to train some pitches. In the end, Michael very grateful asked him thanks. (Now if this marked this man, imagine what the treatment of the other “stars” should be like).

He also reports on the case of Doug Collins who was asked what it was like to coach a star like MJ, his response was very instructive: “Coaching MJ was fantastic. He was very committed and always gave 100% of himself. The difficult thing was to see others less talented than him without the slightest desire to train as hard as he trained, that I did not understand.

Goals, Jordan is cold and direct: "I always wanted to be the best." He wanted to be the best basketball player, so he tried to study at college where most NBA players were called. It was difficult, he received various advice that he should try something else, the air forces, for example, but as he knew what he wanted he persevered. Then he went to study at the University of North Carolina, under Coach Dean Smith.

What was the big lesson that Jordan wrote? Have a final target and set smaller targets along the way, targets that can be reached. You will be satisfied with each goal achieved and when you put all the pieces together, you will have enough structure, not only to reach the final target, but to remain there. If at any time you get lost on the way, return to the bases (Bernadinho makes a point of highlighting that this advice served you when you were at a great disadvantage in the Women's World Volleyball Championship. Knowing how to return to the bases when everything gets complex and with a lot of pressure does all the difference).

Hard work, he wanted to be the best, he was aware that there was a price to be paid. There are no shortcuts. He witnessed many athletes of great skill who stayed halfway because they wanted to skip stages. In his case, he was always pressured by Dean to play in various positions. So critics used to say that Dean "was the only coach who could make Jordan score less than 20 points in a game." It was not easy, in the eyes of everyone Jordan could do more in a more offensive position, but looking back, this decision by Dean made Jordan a complete player.

Jordan says that when you know the basics of the structure, you can give him better with what is being built, when playing in all positions he acquired a great vision of the game.

Fear, the main point is: "fear is an illusion". Jordan shows that he never thought of the worst when he needed to do a task. When trying the basket it never occurred to him: “what if I fail?”. If you have to jump in the water, no "what if I drown?", He always replaced those thoughts with mental states that gave him the confidence he needed to accomplish the task he was willing to do. If you really prepared, just do the same thing in a different situation, millions are watching, but the focus is on doing the same thing you did before when you were just on the court.

Fundamentals, everyone needs principles that will help them not lose focus. He says that everyone he admires had strong principles. Martin Luther King, for example, did not give up his Christian principles of non-violence, even though he was hurt. He reports that at a certain moment he settled in with the position he had occupied, and it was necessary for Dean to show him the videos with the matches of the previous seasons in relation to the current ones, and how much Jordan had changed. Michael admitted the mistake and was grateful to have someone to keep him living within the grounds he proposed to live.

Leadership, the advice is simple: “I always tried to set an example, I never liked to talk a lot”. Michael Jordan was the highest-paid and most famous player. How did you use that? “I knew my position and situation were better, so I struggled to set an example. He trained hard and was present and active even though he was injured. There is no other way, it is not just words, you have to show why you have the right to be in the lead ".

Big book, small, direct and effective. It made me want to learn more about Michael. I will try your biography next time.
183 reviews2 followers
June 14, 2017
This is really an excellent book for anyone at any age. At only 35 pages or so and probably only 500-1000 words, it's a breeze to get through but it's filled with useful information. For someone who is eager to start a project, someone looking to get over a hump, someone trying to perfect a skill, or just anyone, really. Michael Jordan clearly understood the pursuit of excellence and even for the average joe with no aspirations of being an athlete, his tips are helpful if not invaluable.

It's hard to gripe with a book that is filled cover to cover with helpful information but I do wish it had been longer. I know there are separate biographies that go more in depth on his life and process but I finished this feeling that there was so much more to tell. Regardless, that's not a deal-breaker and I would sincerely implore anyone with twenty minutes to give it a glance.
Profile Image for Nasser.
42 reviews3 followers
January 25, 2009
This book is about the one and only Michael Jordan and how he sets goals for him to be successful. in this book Michael Jordan tells us about how when he tried to do something in his basketball career people would say don’t do it and how people would think Michael Jordan didn’t have what it takes to not only comeback to NBA twice but have one of the most famous sneaker companies in the world and to be one of the most known and famous sports stars of all time. People know Michael Jordan for winning many championships in the NBA where stars that have come and gone cant even say they won a single one. but overall i really liked this book.
5 reviews3 followers
August 6, 2013
I thought that I Can't Accept Not Trying was a inspiring book on how Michael Jordan pursued his life and how all the things he was taught he shared with us so we could also learn those things and use them in the future. One of the main ideas was commitment. the author Mr. Jordan taught me that if you don't commit to what you want to do, whether it's basketball or being a doctor, if you don't commit, you won't achieve anything in life. The book made me think that I have to commit to everything I do. For example, homework or basketball or even rugby. But if I don't try and I don't commit I won't get anywhere in life.
Profile Image for Markie Mark.
6 reviews
July 27, 2021
One of the most straight to the point books i've ever read. I cannot argue with anything that was written by MJ. He states plain and simple the way he has accomplished what he has in his lifetime and how that can be applied to anyone and their goals. Build small attainable goals one at a time, achieve each one to give you confidence to continue to your next one until you reach your final goal. Simply amazing. Highly recommend for anyone who desires to achieve anything in their life. He re-states everything i have learned in my own life to get to where i want.
Profile Image for Douglas.
182 reviews86 followers
September 16, 2009
A good book overall. The first chapter on goals really hit home for me. Basically, when you set your grant goals, you will accomplish many small goals along the way, so even if you don't become #1 salesman or top baseball player, you will have had some levels of success.

The book is really short and can be finished in 20 minutes. Its out of print, so you have to order it.

He did a great job going straight to the point. Its definitely a worthwhile read.
Profile Image for David.
Author 2 books54 followers
June 29, 2018
Even when Jordan is trying to compliment coaches and teammates, he comes off as sports' biggest egomaniac. And why shouldn't he? Mostly this is full of great pictures... Jordan's philosophizing is pretty sport-psychology textbook stuff, but hey... he's Michael Jordan. We should be happy he lowers himself to address mortal man at all.
226 reviews44 followers
May 5, 2010
Here is a case of "more is less." This was a quick read with a lasting impression. Jordan takes the pursuit of excellence to an advanced level. It is not surprising he was such a successful athlete and continues to be such an enterprising businessman. I enjoyed the general theme of how he considers failure to be okay but not trying to be unacceptable.
Profile Image for Donna Davies Corley.
13 reviews16 followers
March 5, 2014
A quick, inspirational autobiography that can help anyone with setting goals and not giving up if a person has tried out for a position or team and didn't get chosen for whatever reason as he didn't when trying out for his first high school basketball team. He lists specific guidelines to guide anyone toward achieving goals. Very fast read and good teaching or coaching or team building lessons.
Profile Image for Caio Abrantes.
16 reviews
April 8, 2020
Leitura super rápida, mas com frases e ideias profundas. Li em um final de semana e me encantou muito conhecer os princípios que regem a vida de um atleta de performance como o Michael Jordan. Apenas leiam!
Profile Image for Bella.
22 reviews
March 24, 2020
Super short read, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Feels like an extended in-depth interview answers in book form. Cool read especially for a kid/ teen/ young adult as motivation and insight in his mindset to becoming successful and a leader.
1 review
Currently reading
February 15, 2013
I want to read this book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Brett.
4 reviews
October 30, 2013
it read like a story a i feel like him making goals and never giving up on ur dreams
141 reviews
January 24, 2016
A great book that gives some great advice on how to live your life to the fullest and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
15 reviews
February 12, 2021
Must read for anyone looking to learn how to hold themselves and others to a higher standard! Best book on Leadership
Displaying 1 - 30 of 79 reviews

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