Six-time NBA champion and the league's all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar showed up to practice just like every other highly capable professional basketball player.
But his unwavering focus on his goals translated into success no other player has been able to achieve.
"You have to realize what your goal is and focus on getting to that goal," Abdul-Jabbar told CNBC. "You can't get distracted."
"I think the best thing to do is just to realize where you want to get to every day," he added.
The retired NBA star now has more time to devote to one of his long-term goals, empowering marginalized communities. He recently wrote the book "Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White" on the topic.
CNBC asked Abdul-Jabbar how he was able to tune out the glitz and glamour of a 20-year NBA career and focus on what's important.
"Sometimes people get caught up in the trivial things that have no relevance to where you're trying to go," he said. "And that can be really detrimental to you achieving your goal."
Self-reflection and reminding yourself of your goal is crucial, Abdul-Jabbar said.
The NBA champion recommends saying to yourself every day: "I want to get to a certain point. Is this going to help me get there? Or is it going to be just a waste of time?"
"If you can do that, you'll make the best use of your time and the most efficient use of your energy," he said.