In Canton, Michael Strahan reveals his approach to goal setting

Michael Strahan, one of the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and co-host of "Kelly & Michael," has an unusual approach to goal-setting. (Photo by Michelle Ostrander)

Michael Strahan, one of the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and co-host of “LIVE! with Kelly and Michael,” has an unusual approach to goal-setting. (Photo by Michelle Ostrander)

By Hailey Rose Gattuso   

To be successful in any endeavor, most people set goals and create a plan to achieve them. For the past three years, while interviewing multiple Hall of Fame athletes about the mental side of sports, I’ve heard that many times.

But today I talked to a sports and pop culture superstar whose response caught me completely off guard.

This afternoon, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction festivities in Canton, Ohio, I talked to former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, a 2014 inductee who’s now the co-host of the morning talk show “LIVE! with Kelly and Michael.”

Strahan introduced me to an entirely different perspective on accomplishing goals.

After slipping my way into a tightly packed crowd of reporters, I began by asking him, “What is the most underrated characteristic of what it takes to be successful as a professional athlete?”

Strahan paused and restated the question to me: “What trait do people need to have in order to be successful?”

I nodded. He started to answer: “Hmmmm…. That’s a good question. That’s the hardest question I’ve had all day.”

After several seconds, he answered, “Perseverance. Definitely perseverance. You have to be able to believe in yourself.”

I followed up by asking, “How did you maintain a positive attitude throughout your career?”

Strahan, 42, acknowledged that it was hard to do, “especially playing in New York.” He pointed to his right, where a group of New York reporters, who covered his time on the Giants, was standing.

“When you play in New York, these reporters over here, they beat you down,” Strahan said. “And then they smile in your face and you just got to take it.”

During the 2014 inductees press conference at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Michael Strahan turned to Hailey Rose Gattuso and asked, "Where are you getting these questions?" (Photo by Michelle Ostrander)

During the 2014 inductees press conference at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Michael Strahan turned to Hailey Rose Gattuso and asked, “Where are you getting these questions?” (Photo by Michelle Ostrander)

Then he turned to the reporters. “But I wouldn’t take it, would I?” he asked.

“No, you wouldn’t,” one of them responded.

And that was Strahan’s point: Realize criticism will happen, but don’t take it too seriously.

Before I could go on, Strahan had something to ask me. “Where are you getting all these questions?” he said.

“I’m an athlete, and I want your perspective on the mental side of the game.” I answered.

The answer came naturally; it was honest. I was born a determined athlete, but so were many others. I’ve been itching to know what allows certain individuals to make it to the top. Since there is no single recipe to success, my goal is to find as many different methods as possible and combine them in a way that allows young athletes to learn and be successful as it applies to them.

“Ah, OK, you’re an athlete!” he said. “That explains it.”

I had one final question for Strahan — the one I mentioned at the top of this story. “Did you have a process for setting goals?”

This time he answered quickly. “Absolutely not,” he said. “I knew what I wanted to do, but I had no plan for how I was going to get there. And I have no idea how I got to do what I’m doing now.”

Strahan’s recipe was unique, for sure. I have interviewed a couple dozen athletes and never before gotten such a straightforward answer. Even if they don’t go into great detail, athletes usually apply some sort of strategy to goal setting. Strahan showed that each athlete is different, and living in the moment without too much planning can be beneficial as long as you are motivated.

Strahan also told a reporter standing next to me that he did not like watching videos of himself playing, or tapes of his shows. This is a reflection of his personality. Even though watching videos can help other players learn from their mistakes, it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.

To be successful, you just need an approach that works for you.

Hailey Rose Gattuso is an incoming freshman at St. Bonaventure University and a graduate of our program at Mount St. Mary Academy in Buffalo. Michelle Ostrander and Tim O’Shei contributed to this story.

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