It can make you a superstar in your field too.

Walter Bond didn’t start out with a bang. As a reserve member of the University of Minnesota’s basketball team, he averaged seven points per game. During his senior year, he broke his foot—twice. For a young man who dreamed of an NBA career, things didn’t look promising. But just a year later, Bond made NBA history. After signing with the Dallas Mavericks, he became the first undrafted rookie to start a season opener. He went on to play for the Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons, scoring 874 points over 157 games.

Bond’s success story is unusual in and of itself, but here’s what might be the most surprising: He was able to achieve his NBA dreams by modeling his mindset on the shark. “I knew that for an NBA team to sign an unknown college reserve player, I would have to learn and master the fundamentals of peak performance,” recalls Bond, now a Hall of Fame motivational speaker and the author of “Swim! How a Shark, a Suckerfish, and a Parasite Teach You Leadership, Mentoring, & Next Level Success.” “Of course, I had to put in a lot of work on the court, but I quickly found out that success is also determined by what goes on in the mind: your attitude, your words, how you handle mistakes, your resilience and adaptability, how you choose to work with others, and much more.

“At the time, I wasn’t relating my mindset to the shark, or to any member of the animal kingdom,” he clarifies. “But the skills I developed became the foundation for the Sacred Six principles that now guide my life, and that I teach to audiences around the world.” Bond’s Sacred Six are a blueprint for operating with integrity and working toward consistent improvement in every area of life. Each principle is inspired by shark behavior.

Why sharks? Despite their (undeserved) reputation as mindless, ruthless predators, Bond says sharks are smart, adaptable, discerning creatures that cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with other fish. You might say their success depends on having the right team. “Many sharks live alongside one or more remoras, or suckerfish,” Bond explains. “The suckerfish find and eat microscopic parasites on the shark’s body, providing a potentially lifesaving service to the shark. In return, the suckerfish receive transportation, protection, and meals from the shark. Each creature brings value to the other.”

Here, Bond shares his Sacred Six shark-like traits that can set you on the path to success, no matter what field you’re in (or court you’re playing on!):

Sharks never stop moving forward. Some species of sharks need to keep water flowing through their gills to avoid drowning, which means they can’t stop—and they certainly can’t swim backward. They always seek progress. So should we.

Sharks never look down; they always look up. Sharks keep their eyes on the water ahead of and above them, ready to react when prey appears. They don’t waste their time or energy on what’s beneath and behind them. Likewise, it’s important for us to keep our eyes—and attitudes—pointed in a productive direction. “In most situations, your attitude is the only thing that can stop you,” says Bond. “That doesn’t mean you’ll never lose a game or have a disappointing practice—you will. It doesn’t mean teammates will never make mistakes that affect you. They will. Even so, your job is to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t, and stay vigilant for opportunities. In basketball and in life, you never know when you’ll be able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.”

Sharks are always curious and learning. Sharks can grow up to a foot a year, and their development isn’t purely physical; they are always paying attention and learning. In fact, many sharks don’t attack potential prey indiscriminately. They observe and investigate before striking to make sure it’s a creature they want to eat. Likewise, we humans should always be growing and improving.

Sharks always respect their environment and recognize other sharks. Sharks don’t typically perceive other sharks as threats, and they seldom attack one another. In other words, there’s room in the “ocean” for multiple leaders, mentors, and success stories—no need to feel threatened or intimidated by another’s accomplishments or position.

“Some species of sharks work with others to take down larger prey,” says Bond. “They tap into the strengths of their fellow sharks to achieve a common goal—and so should we. This can be a tough lesson to learn as an athlete because everyone wants to be a superstar. But few people reach the top without plenty of help from others. So, look for those in your field who are getting it done or are better than you are, especially those who influence others by proactively recognizing and coaching them. They can help you achieve long-term success—not just sporadic wins.”

Sharks are always flexible. A shark’s skeleton is made of flexible cartilage that enables it to change direction swiftly and efficiently. Sharks are highly adaptable, too—they can survive in warm or cool temperatures, swim in shallow or deep water, and eat many different types of prey depending on what’s available. All these things are instinctive for sharks, but for humans, changing and adapting to new situations can be extremely difficult.

“A reluctance to change is what causes many people to stop moving forward,” says Bond. “But remember: It’s not your past decisions that define you, but your next decision. As an athlete, I used the off-season to unlearn bad habits and develop new skills. I now do the same thing as a leader: I regularly take time to evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and how I might need to change. I’ve found that often, the next ‘right’ decision lies close to home; for instance, choosing to change my attitude or to accept constructive criticism.”

Sharks always elevate their suckerfish to new levels. As Bond has mentioned, suckerfish and sharks enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship: In return for eating potentially lethal parasites, suckerfish receive transportation, protection, and scraps from the shark’s kills. In the human world, “suckerfish” are those who need direction, coaching, and guidance, and “sharks” are the empathetic, people-focused leaders who provide those things.

“Thinking and living like a shark is what separates ordinary players from superstars, whether the game is basketball, business, or whatever,” says Bond. “Just as evolution has given sharks what they need to be apex predators, we all have the raw materials to be impact players. So much of success is based on mindset, habits, values, relationship management, and lifelong learning. These are things the Sacred Six help you develop and strive for, every day.”