Letters to a Young Athlete by Chris Bosh

An excellent book by one of my favorite athletes, past or present — and one whose career was tragically cut short by life-threatening blood clots in 2015. Bosh was a multiple time all-star with the Toronto Raptors before joining up with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade to form the “Big 3” in Miami from 2011–2014, and this book details some of his best and brightest moments as an NBA professional, but also some of his toughest ones, such as being regarded as the “third wheel” on those championship Miami teams and how he had to overcome his own self-doubt and jealousy to accept his (vitally important) role to become a champion. As the title suggests, Letters to a Young Athlete is most definitely geared towards young athletes, obviously, but there are some excellent stories, anecdotes, quotes and Bosh-isms, if you will, that are useful for anyone of any age and in any industry — not just sports. For me, reading this book was a useful pick-me-up after all that has happened in the past year-and-a-half, a very enjoyable read from an inquisitive, thoughtful, and insightful player and author — one whose time was cut short on the court, but whose prose will have meaning for the next generation of athletes, coaches, teachers, and leaders for a long time. The foreword by Pat Riley — one of the best leaders of any sport in any generation — is also wonderful as well.

  • on to the next — grind after grind after grind (mentality)
  • how an athlete plays when they’re exhausted tells you everything about who they are as a competitor
  • if you make excuses or take shortcuts in one part of your life or your game, it’s very hard not to do it everywhere else
  • learning to distrust your limits: when you think yo’ve hit your limit, you’re only at about 40 percent of your capacity
  • when you’re tired and your mind tells you you ain’t got nothing left, it’s lying
  • winning, or doing anything worthwhile, requires accessing materials or energies from deep within that are not typically accessed
  • Pat Riley: “Scratch the depths of your soul and see what’s there.”
  • grit? dedication? learning to ignore that deceiving empty light? that’s on you. that’s up to you.
  • “This is miserable — give me more!” suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion
  • supreme conditioning — the ability not just to keep going, but to want to keep going
  • “why” — an intangible something that draws customers in — what’s your why?
  • knowing that you’re making the most of your God given talents
  • his why: this is who I am
  • the key is to never invest your why ini something external that can be taken away by a power beyond your control
  • cultivate: to grow
  • your brain is either getting stronger or weaker every day
  • mens sana in corpore sano: a sound mind in a sound body
  • mental toughness — something you build up like any other muscle — by envisioning all of your worst-case scenarios, in a calm state of mind, and gaming out your response
  • if you’re not talking, you’re not playing defense
  • a good communicator knows how to discover and response to those differences (in people, their personalities)
  • Eisenhower — never dealt in “personalities” — he criticized issues and actions, not people
  • communications should help you get the best out of people — should not be about making them feel worse
  • the loudest talkers on any team probably aren’t the best listeners — but the real leaders know how to do both
  • if you want to be great, you have to be honest with yourself about all the ways in which you’re not great yet
  • once you realize the role ego plays in holding you back, you’ve taken a huge step towards beating it
  • the good news about ego is that it’s never too late to fix it
  • ego is a liar — tells you you’re the greatest, regardless of what the results say
  • always finds a way to spin results
  • confidence is the belief in your ability, in the work you’ve put in, that’s backed up by reality
  • confidences is expecting good things to happen because you worked to make them happen
  • ego poisons success — confidence is necessary for success
  • the true test of leadership isn’t who puts up the best stats — it’s who teammates turn to when things aren’t going well
  • nobody cares what you say until they know how much you care
  • being a leader means being willing to change to meet your team’s needs at any given moment
  • if you want to call people out on their mistakes, be prepared to own up to yours
  • criticism is a tax on success — if you’re getting criticized, it means you are doing something right
  • time spent on twitter is time not spent on reading books
  • best way to cope with criticism is to come to terms with its inevitability
  • “Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.” — Zeno
  • Aristotle — you don’t have to be a shoemaker to know if the show you’re wearing hurts your foot
  • in other words, being able to identify a problem isn’t the same as being able to solve it
  • “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.” — TR
  • criticism is easy — putting in the extra work is hard
  • don’t fail the plan, let the plan fail you
  • that’s what a teammate is: someone who wants every single person on the team, not just himself, to do well
  • Kipling: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same.”
  • while you’re celebrating, other people are preparing
  • anyone can lose, but it takes real mental strength to lose well
  • Wooden: “Winning takes talent. To repeat takes character.”
  • “it takes what it takes”
  • Heifetz (violinist): “If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.”
  • being in the zone is about being completely present
  • at some point in your childhood, you and your friends went outside to play together for the last time and nobody knew it (Sandlot?)
  • when someone offers you the easy way out, take the hard way

I love books, I have a ton of them, and I take notes on all of them. I wanted to share all that I have learned and will continue to learn. I hope you enjoy.