Basketball star Pete Maravich (1947-1988) revolutionized the game with his ball-handling skills. But it didn’t happen by accident: Pete’s father blazed his son’s path to greatness with great care.
Press Maravich was a well-respected college basketball coach in the 1950s. His dream was for young Pete to grow into a top professional player, so he sought to spur his youngster to excel at every opportunity.
Press gave his 2-year-old son a basketball as a Christmas present, but the toddler didn’t take much notice.
By the time Pete began elementary school, his father would shoot baskets behind their house. He invited Pete to join him—and that’s how his son took to the game.
But Press didn’t stop there. When his son was 9, he arranged a meeting with legendary coach John Wooden. Impressed with young Pete’s dribbling skills, Wooden asked Press what aspirations he held for his son.
“He’s going to be the first million-dollar pro,” Press replied.
Setting such high expectations was part of his motivational plan. Press wanted his son to think grandly about his future and not settle for less than his full potential.
A few years later, Pete sampled baseball and enjoyed it. But one day while father and son played baseball, Press accidentally hit a ball that hit Pete in the head.
After his son regained his footing, Press pounced on another motivational moment. He told Pete, “I was hit with a baseball once” and landed in the hospital. He added, “That’s why I stuck with basketball.”
Such motivational techniques worked. Pete set high standards for himself and wound up becoming one of the youngest players ever inducted into the Hall of Fame.
— Adapted from Personal Intelligence, John D. Mayer, Scientific American/Farrar, Straus & Giroux.