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Mike Flynt

When All Else Fails…
The truly great know how – and when – to adjust their game plan.

Mike Flynt was one of the toughest linebackers in the Lone Star Conference when he was playing for Sul Ross State University, and as that team’s senior captain, he had the Lobos ready for a breakout year in 1970. Flynt’s toughness, often displayed by his willingness to scrap at the drop of a hat, became a negative when he got into one too many fights. On the eve of his senior season, coaches kicked Flynt from the team. Not only did the fight end Flynt’s college career, it led to the unraveling of the Lobos season.

For 37 years, he carried the burden of letting his teammates down because he couldn’t control his fists.

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Michael Phelps

Ultimate Teammate…
The truly great will assume whatever role is necessary for the team to win…

He was the star of the Olympic Games – a young man about whom so many words were written, that coming up with a new superlative to describe him is practically impossible. And his legacy will live on even after his world records are surpassed, because one thing I’ve noticed while watching Michael Phelps win – in close races, in blowouts, by himself and as a team member – is that he embodies nearly every one of the sixteen characteristics of Greatness that you’ll find in true champions. He livesnearly every one of the characteristics – the adversity he battled growing up, the practice sessions he endures routinely, the life that he’s grown to lead. He is truly great.

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Dot Richardson

Contagious Enthusiasm…
They are positive thinkers… They are enthusiastic… and that enthusiasm rubs off.

Twice during the 1996 Summer Olympics, Dot Richardson and her teammates on the US softball team had faced the powerhouse team from China. Twice, in key situations, Dot had struck out.

So with the Gold Medal on the line, it was high drama when the captain of the American team stepped to the plate – and Dot put her previous failures out of mind. Then she hit a pitch out of the park.
Dot’s two-run homer gave the US the win and the team the Gold. Her play didn’t just propel the team, it propelled the sport of women’s softball to new heights in the first Olympics where softball was a medal sport.

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Shaquille O’Neal

Visualize Victory…
The truly great see victory before the game begins

Given all the changes that have occurred recently it may seem like it happened forever ago, but in reality only two years have passed since this scene played out at the NBA finals.

As his 7-foot-1, 325-pound frame would suggest, Shaquille O’Neal is as dominant a player as the NBA has ever seen.
In 2006, four years after O’Neal had won his third NBA Title with the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaq was playing for another championship – this time with the Miami Heat, who had acquired him in a trade two years before. But Shaq “Diesel” was no longer the talk of the NBA. O’Neal’s new team was heavily overshadowed by the up and coming Dallas Mavericks and their 7-foot superstar Dirk Nowitzki. In fact, in a best of seven series most didn’t think the Heat were capable of winning a single game.

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Certified Speaking Professional (CSP)

About Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, leadership expert and executive coach.

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