June 4, 2011
Standing Above the Crowd:
NBA All-Star’s New Book Provides Secrets for Success in the Game of Life
James Donaldson, former professional NBA All-Star, has a heart as big as he is tall—and at 7’2” he is taller than most. His heart, his concern for others, and his desire to encourage the next generation to succeed are all evident in his newly published book “Standing Above the Crowd.”
Donaldson provides us with two books in one in this part motivational, part autobiographical book that reflects Donaldson’s own quest to be the best, how significant people in his life supported and motivated him to become an athlete, and how the values he learned from being an athlete can be applied to succeeding in business, politics, and life.
I admit I’m not a basketball fan, but that hardly affected my interest in this book because Donaldson’s voice is clear and entertaining and his sports stories caught my attention for how they illustrated larger points he had to make about dedication, leadership, always trying your best, and even how to deal with failure and turn it into success. Furthermore, his intriguing stories of playing against such household names as Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are sure to interest everyone. In fact, he includes a bonus section about the Fifty Greatest NBA Players, over thirty of whom he played against, and he also asked his friends Tom “Satch” Sanders, eight-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics, and Lenny Wilkens, NBA Hall of Famer both as a player and coach, to contribute their memories of many of these great players.
While any basketball fan or person seeking to better his or her life will find this book informative and entertaining, it’s largely directed at young adults, who are the most likely to look up to sports figures, and Donaldson uses his “celebrity” appeal to get their attention and provide them with some of the tools they will need to succeed in life. Donaldson, who is very concerned about making the world a better place, spends a lot of time speaking to youth groups and at high schools, encouraging students to promise to themselves that they will graduate from high school, and also, always to do their best.
Donaldson has clearly done his best throughout his life. He has a good head on his shoulders which he attributes largely to his father’s influence. He became an athlete, although he initially had no interest in basketball, because he had a coach who convinced him to try out for basketball, and he made it into the pro’s because he had coaches who saw his potential and brought it out in him. Realizing the importance to children of having an adult take an interest in them, Donaldson does so today by mentoring and speaking to youths.
Throughout “Standing Above the Crowd,” Donaldson provides practical advice and tells it like it is. For example, he cautions students against giving into peer pressure and he encourages them to make agreements with themselves that they will not go back on. He made his own agreement to himself early on never to drink after he witnessed his uncle in a drunken stupor. Donaldson encourages kids by saying:
You’ll actually garner a certain measure of respect from your peers if you’re able to stick to your convictions. People find it easier to pull you down to their level (into their drama, trauma, and issues) than to elevate themselves to where you are. That’s human nature, so don’t feel bad about it or let people make you feel bad about what you’re doing. Don’t let them do that to you! Remember, you have “the power,” and as long as you stick to your dreams, you hang onto “the power.” Hopefully, one day your friends will find their own power and elevate their games to your level.
Beyond giving advice, Donaldson is full of great stories. Among the most memorable are his stories of playing basketball in Spain, Italy, and Greece; how a basketball injury resulted in his establishing The Donaldson Clinic to provide physical therapy for others, and the ups and downs of running that business; and his 2009 run to become Mayor of Seattle. In this last story, Donaldson remarks how he had little confidence in politicians until he was convinced to get involved in politics. Knowing what an honest person Donaldson is from reading his book, I felt some restored confidence in the political system after he stated, “Now that I’ve had a chance to ‘look under the hood’ of how the political process works and how it can benefit communities, I can see for myself that participating in that process is truly one of the best things a person can do.”
James Donaldson needs no recommendation from me. He has more than thirty people who provided glowing testimonials for this book about what a wonderful person he is. But my view of the world is a little brighter knowing a professional basketball player like James Donaldson is willing to contribute his time and energy to his community to create a better world. James Donaldson will encourage anyone who reads his book to Stand Above the Crowd. And I encourage anyone who knows a young person, especially boys interested in sports, to give that young person the gift of spending a few hours with James Donaldson through this book.
For more information about James Donaldson and “Standing Above the Crowd,” visit www.StandingAbovetheCrowd.com.
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and author of the award-winning “Narrow Lives”
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