(By Bob McCurdy) This week’s blog is not about the latest radio stats, Scarborough qualitative, reach/frequency, or any of the usual stuff. It is about the drive and determination required to become a world-class performer.

Each week I forward my blogs to an ex-college teammate of mine, Kevin Eastman, who has quite an impressive resume in coaching and leadership. Kevin has coached basketball at the college level, won an NBA world championship with the Boston Celtics, and most recently coached the Los Angeles Clippers. He just finished writing a book titled Why the Best are the Best.

So what does athletics have to do with radio sales? A lot. The mindset, discipline, and regimen that’s required to excel athletically is the same mindset, discipline, and regimen that’s required of us to excel in media sales.

Last week Kevin forwarded to me several “behind-the-scenes examples” of established world-class athletes and their pursuit of excellence. They are worth sharing…

“1.  We are playing in the 2008 NBA Finals. We lose Game 5 out in LA. Kevin Garnett misses some key free-throws. We have mechanical difficulty with the plane so we did not arrive back in Boston until 3 a.m. Game 6 is the next day. Kevin goes directly from our plane to our practice facility and practices his free throws. He shoots six for seven from the foul line next game and we win the NBA championship.

2.  My office overlooked the practice facility court in LA. It is July, the off season, when most established players take off. I’m in the office every morning at 7 a.m. Chris Paul is also there, on the court, working on his shot and his dribble moves with his left hand — his singular goal was to improve his left hand that off-season. Note, he just signed a four-year $160 million contract.

3.  Ray Allen is one of the best shooters the game has ever seen. He was adamant about getting to the arena so that he could be on the floor practicing his shot three hours before game time. He sweat more in his pre-game shooting routine than other starters sweat in the entire game. One night in Philly the lights went out during warm-ups. The players stopped shooting and sat down, except Ray. The emergency flood lights at the corners of the arena were enough for him to keep shooting. It was so dark I could not even see some of his shots in the air, then I heard the swish.

4.  Nike called me to their campus in Oregon to work out two guys they were “pitching” to wear their shoe: LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. This was 2003 before the NBA draft. I had never met either guy. As I was working out LeBron, I stopped the workout after about 10 minutes and said, basically, ‘We have a choice to make. We either start working out at a pro level with pro intensity or we should probably call it a day.’ My language was not the kind you hear in church. He got the message. After about 90 minutes we were both drenched. As we were walking off the court I said to him, ‘I didn’t mean to get on you that hard.’ He looked at me and said, ‘I’m good, coach. I don’t care how the message is delivered, I just want to know everything I need to know to get better.’ And get better he did.”

Excellence is no accident. The best are the best for a reason in sports, media sales, or in any other field. Peak performers are never satisfied with the status quo, possess the discipline to develop themselves, embrace coaching, and are constantly looking to refine their craft. Peak sales performers never lose sight of the fact that they are every bit the “athlete” as those on the grid iron, tennis, or basketball court.

Want to read another inspiring story about drive, determination and, as Gandhi would say, “the singleness of decision” from last week? Read this.

Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group.
This article was previously featured in Radio Ink

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