Condoleezza Rice attributes her success to this vital life lesson she learned from playing sports

Former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hits an approach shot to the tenth green during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Getty Images | Jeff Gross

Condoleezza Rice has quite a few accomplishments under her belt: The first African-American female U.S. Secretary of State, the first African-American woman to be named National Security Advisor and the first African-American to be named provost at Stanford University.

At the Annual Salute to Women in Sports, where Rice was awarded the Billie Jean King Leadership Award, she discussed her background in sports and attributed her leadership successes to lessons she picked up as a competitive athlete.

"I learned so much about perseverance, about hard work, about having a not great performance and having to get up the next day and go in and try again," Rice said at the award ceremony. "And that's something that you have to have in life."

Rice says that she grew up in a household of sports enthusiasts. Her father was a high school football coach and they would spend weekends cheering on the Alabama Crimson Tide football team and the Cleveland Browns.

She took up ice skating in her early teens and went on to be a competitive skater. At 18, she began playing tennis, a sport that she still enjoys, along with golf. In fact, although she started playing golf much later in life, she quickly excelled at the sport and became one of the first two women to be admitted to the Augusta National Golf Club, one of the most exclusive golf clubs in the world.

Condoleezza Rice receives the Billie Jean King leadership award during The Women's Sports Foundation's 38th Annual Salute To Women in Sports Awards Gala.

In 2013, Rice again flexed her leadership muscles in the sports world when she was appointed as a member of the College Football Playoff Committee, which selects and seeds the four teams to take part in the NCAA football tournament. During Rice's three-year term she was the only female member.

At the award ceremony, sponsored by the Women's Sports Foundation, Rice said that the leadership lessons she learned playing sports as a child have shaped her worldview and work ethic.

"That's why I'm so glad that after so many years when young girls couldn't have that experience that would translate into life's lessons," said Rice, "the Women's Sports Foundation is making it possible for perhaps every little girl to recognize the benefit of sport."

Rice, who now serves as a professor at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, added, "There's really nothing like [sports] in helping you to prepare for life."

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