Leadership

Shaquille O'Neal shares his best advice for achieving extraordinary success

Shaquille O'Neal is one of the most famous men in America and has four NBA championship rings, but growing up he often questioned his own abilities on the basketball court.

The 7'1" center, known by most as "Shaq," says he would come to the bench frustrated during some games, unable to score with multiple people guarding him.

"I had to learn at an early age to turn criticism into motivation," the 15-time NBA All-Star tells CNBC.

O'Neal says his strong support system was a key driver in his success. His stepfather, Army Sergeant Phil Harrison, and his uncles would say, "Find a way to get it done!"

"I was taught and raised to never give up, always persevere and no excuses," O'Neal says.

Shaquille 'Shaq' O'Neal
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Shaquille 'Shaq' O'Neal

Their encouragement, tough love and motivation helped push O'Neal both on and off the basketball court.

From a No. 1 draft pick in 1992 out of Louisiana State University, O'Neal went on to become one of the most dominant basketball players in NBA history.

The Newark, New Jersey, native is best known for his incredible title run with the Los Angeles Lakers. Playing alongside Kobe Bryant, the two led the Lakers to three consecutive titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. O'Neal was the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player all three of those years.

After he retired from the league in 2011, O'Neal became one of few players to have his jersey number, 34, retired by multiple teams — the Lakers and the Heat.

In September, he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

When it comes to achieving your dream, O'Neal says you should always be striving for it and shouldn't let anyone tell you that you can't do it — but have a plan B just in case.

"My plan B would have been law enforcement or police detective or being a sheriff somewhere," he says. "After that, I probably would have joined the military. I always had stuff to fall back on."

Today, O'Neal's larger-than-life personality has extended his career off the court. He is a basketball analyst for Turner Sports, and with 89 percent awareness in the U.S. market, according to Repucom, he's a highly sought-after spokesman for major companies such as American Express.

But despite his huge success, "The Big Aristotle," is still humble.

"I think I have done enough to remain successful, but I don't think I've made it yet," he says.

Even today, despite all his awards and titles, Shaq doesn't consider himself a superstar.

"I'm just a regular guy that just listened to the right people."