Pay The FEE


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Today, we hear from John Amaechi (OBE) – a psychologist, New York Times best-selling author and social entrepreneur. Amaechi is a former NBA player and broadcaster for ESPN, CNN and BBC. A self-described “fat, nerdy kid from a single-parent family in the UK”, it took him 6 years to go from his first touch of a basketball to being an NBA star.

John is living proof that anyone circumstances can become extraordinary – irrespective of their circumstances or background. Combining his skills in psychology with his experience in the NBA, Amaechi offers unique insights into how top athletes work, giving you a chance to learn from him.

Greatness and the FEE

To achieve his dream, Amaechi focussed every choice he made on one goal only: to become a basketball player in the NBA. This included important life choices, such as which university he went to, but also extended to the hundreds of small but meaningful choices that he made every day. For example, how he treated food.

Do you eat for fuel or as a sweet reward? Do you hit the gym to get in shape or hang out with friends? Do you get a proper night’s sleep or stay up late? Amaechi coined the term FEE, which stands for Focus, Effort and Execution.


You have to focus on every moment. Do everything you do with your full attention of body and mind. Don’t be happy with so-so results and understand that no detail of practice, preparation or game is too small. Studies show that more than 50% of people zone out in the first minutes of a meeting if they are not presenting. Just imagine that you are the one who is focussed and spots the error in the slide that was supposed to be presented to the customer tomorrow!


One of Amaechi's coaches once said that in order to succeed you have to put effort into every single aspect of the game; from the most mundane to the most important. Everything you do needs to be at game speed. You have to train so that when it counts, you can rely on habits. If you want to get in shape there is no way around sweat and sore muscles – put in all your effort or leave it all together. Or as Master Yoda once famously said: "Do or do not, no try there is".


Nothing matters in life if you don't act upon it. We miss 100% of the shots that we don't try. So you need to get up and execute – start doing, stop thinking. Create a bias towards action: just do it.

According to Amaechi, putting things down to luck is being unwilling to pay the FEE to achieve the dream. If someone attributes your success to luck, it's their way of feeling better about themselves.

Are you willing to #PayTheFEE?

“The difference between you and me is not height, it’s not skin color, it’s not vertical leap. It’s just skills. Mental and physical skills that you can learn.”

John Amaechi

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