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J Leonard Costner Of Legacy Universe Publishing: How My Experience in Athletics Trained Me to…

J Leonard Costner Of Legacy Universe Publishing: How My Experience in Athletics Trained Me to Become a Better Leader

An Interview With Vanessa Ogle

Confidence and Self-Esteem: Success in athletics boosts confidence and self-esteem, which are essential traits for leaders. Confident leaders can inspire and motivate their teams more effectively. Sports often provide opportunities for individuals to take on leadership roles, such as team captaincy, where they can practice and refine their leadership skills in a supportive environment.

The world of sports is not just about physical prowess or competition; it’s an incubator for leadership qualities such as discipline, teamwork, strategic planning, and resilience. Athletes, from amateur levels to professional arenas, often encounter situations that test their limits and require them to step up in ways that mirror the challenges faced by leaders in various fields. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing J Leonard Costner.

J Leonard Costner, a man of passion and dedication, embarked on a dynamic journey as a former basketball player and the visionary creator of the Legacy Series. His basketball odyssey commenced with a stellar high school career, where his prowess on the court was highly regarded. He honed his skills playing AAU basketball for the legendary Tim Thomas Playaz, a program that has etched its name in history. His talent and unwavering dedication led to a nomination as a McDonald’s All-American and a full scholarship to Saint Peter’s University, a testament to his hard work and commitment.

At Saint Peter’s, he helped his team earn a MAAC Conference Championship and an unforgettable NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011. After college, he pursued a professional basketball career, ultimately retiring after receiving a contract offer from the NBA’s Developmental League.

Stepping off the basketball court and into the literary world, Leonard embarked on a new chapter of his life. He channeled his passion and creativity into the Legacy Novel Series, a testament to his versatility and adaptability. With three captivating books already published and four more on the horizon, he is on a mission to expand the Legacy universe into a global sensation. Leonard’s dedication to storytelling and world-building mirrors the same determination and excellence that defined his basketball career, leaving us in awe of his ability to transition and excel in different arenas.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career? What athletics did you participate in?

The loss of a life and the rebirth of a new one opened me to my career as a Creator. I am the child of a professional basketball player, born into a life of sport and raised in a world where athletics laid the foundation of my life. I was only weeks old when basketball first took me across the globe to France, where my father was playing at the time, and my family would follow. From France, we would relocate to Italy with a new opportunity to continue playing the game, and then Greece. Athens is where I grew up and the culture that would ultimately teach me how to navigate people, society, differences, and similarities.

When my family moved back to the US, it took some time to assimilate fully into my new surroundings. At the time, I still spoke with a British accent after primarily being taught in International schools by UK teachers. Adjusting to opposing curriculums and mathematics systems made school easy and difficult congruently. Unbeknownst to me, this transition would begin my understanding of true leadership.

It wasn’t until my family moved back to America that I started playing basketball. I was a natural, and my natural abilities made the game come easily. I respected the process and wanted to learn how to become the best version of myself. My dedication to the sport started me from an early age, taking every opportunity to have a ball in my hand and get shots up anywhere I could find a round cylinder to put said ball through.

I sacrificed everything to maintain the only life I had known. I pushed myself, reaching the pinnacle of my abilities and opportunities, until I was faced with my first form of adversity, a broken neck. Extensive nerve damage in my shooting arm couldn’t stop me, but a broken hip and reconstructive pelvic surgery could force me to take a much-needed vacation after 21 straight years of emotional and physical pain.

While recovering from major surgery, I first realized that I had neglected parts of myself that didn’t revolve around athletics. I recognized that part of my recovery was going to require me to become someone new, someone that I didn’t know because the person I had ceased to exist. During this introspective process, I wrote my first book. My debut title, Legacy, was my new medium of expression. It was a story that I experienced as I dreamt at night. Vivid, intense, and consistent, I didn’t immediately recognize that I was being called to deliver this universe to the world.

Legacy is, and always will be, the purest form of my artistic expression. Each facet of this universe represents a distinctive art installation, carefully curated for the gallery show I am developing. This creation is the culmination of my past lives, each one intricately sewn into the fabric of this narrative, preparing me for this very journey. Through Legacy, I channel the profound beauty and richness of my experiences, crafting a world that resonates deeply with the farthest expanses of my imagination and allowing me to create a future in my image.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

What may seem like a quick rise and appearance for some indulging in my work has been more than a decade-long process for me. It was sometimes overwhelming for me to allow people to experience my work. Now that I have committed to allowing myself to have a voice, the reception I have been receiving towards my words has been unexpected. People have been encouraging, praising, believing, intrigued, demanding more, and ultimately positive. As someone who values time, I am happy that people enjoy and want to be a part of this world that I have created, but more so, I am grateful that they have taken the time to read the stories.

Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Courage: Embarking on this journey has forced me to confront and transcend the insecurities that have plagued me for years. I learned negative notions from years of common occurrences across many instances, each further reinforcing my ability to recognize and adapt to the behaviors people typically portray.

One of my biggest lessons was that people’s opinions are all about perspective. The same way art is interpreted is how the world’s citizens will judge you. Each individual is a collection of variables that causes them to see life through different lenses. Because of this, we aren’t always met with universal positivity. A common trait that I had to learn how not to take personally. In the end, authenticity is the key to prosperity.

Honesty: Being honest with yourself is where everything starts. It’s the key to understanding your level of acceptance. Accept the things you like and dislike, are willing to change, and are willing to live with. Unfortunately, the road to happiness is often a long and arduous undertaking — a path designed to test your spirit and how worthy you are of reaching whatever drives you.

I’ve had many honest conversations with myself over the years. Each one was more difficult than the last. Before I gained real-life experience, my decisions were often driven by fearlessness and now from the standpoint of risk and reward. At this stage of my life, there needs to be a balance of the two. I’ve been through enough to know that I can control anything I face as long as I stay observant and understand all the angles. And I need to continue to show fearlessness in trusting my abilities as I strive for success.

Patience: Timing is everything! We find pushback and hindrances on the course only when we try to force outcomes. In basketball, this trait is called court vision. It’s the ability to see the game in such a manner that you can affect outcomes by knowing when and when not to act or react. Patience isn’t for the faint of heart. For example, we want to win in a sporting match, but winning doesn’t always happen. It’s only after the game when we watch film or reflect on our contributions that the errors in our performance show, typically from impatience.

When I initially published my first book, the timing wasn’t right for promotion because I wasn’t ready for my work to be seen. I still had a lot to overcome regarding insecurity, and I didn’t have enough industry knowledge to control my path. I was taken advantage of by people who saw the opportunity.

I needed time to educate myself. Just like when I was still playing basketball, I trained myself to become the best version of who I wanted to be. I took the time to sit in my creation and see the landscape of the field. Eventually, I found a vision of the expansive universe I am creating today.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Can you share a pivotal moment in your athletic career that taught you a leadership lesson you’ve applied outside of sports?

During my playing career, I had the opportunity to play with many talented people. Everyone was highly skilled and stars in their own right. I began to notice that amidst so much talent, there often wasn’t balance. Conflicting ideologies frequently showed during games, no matter what team I was playing with, because when you’re in the throws of chaos, which were the games, there was only one outcome that mattered: winning. Winning was the goal and by any means necessary.

The only problem is that when facing adversity, there needs to be someone willing to be a constant who can see the game beyond the present and account for the things that wouldn’t be considered glamorous. Make sure the offense is run, be willing to play defense, sacrifice your body to make winning plays, and understand the nuances of moments and your teammates.

These situations taught me that leadership doesn’t mean limelight. There will be instances when your effort will award you that. Still, real leadership is when you are looked to by the people who you share these moments to remain the one thing they know will always stay the same. They’ll look to you to recenter, to be prepared for anything that is required, whether that be making an extra pass to the best available option for the win or understanding the flow and rhythm of the game so that as the clock is ticking to the final buzzer, you can get to an open spot and be ready when the ball is swung your way to take the last shot.

How has your experience in team dynamics within athletics influenced your approach to leadership in the workplace?

I’ve learned that leadership in the workplace is often confused with a sense of authority. Leadership in the workplace is no different than leadership in team sports. It’s not about telling people right and wrong or pointing blame. It’s about organization, working with your coworkers to enhance their abilities so that, as a “team,” you can reach your goals. The pressures to want to succeed are the same, but the effects of failure are more significant. In the workplace, if you can give people a sense of job security, they’ll work better. They’ll enjoy what they do if you can provide them with a culture of care, understanding, and guidance. And you can offer a place where clear, effective communication is present. In that case, they’ll be more than willing to grow with you together. Leadership is the ability to play the cards you are dealt, figure out how to win, and not fold and say the game is unfair. There will always be personnel changes, people will come and go, and no one will ever be perfect. Still, they will want to be successful and be driven to learn how to succeed if that seems like a viable option.

In what ways has facing defeat or challenges in sports prepared you for handling failure and setbacks in your professional life?What role does resilience play in long term career success?

Loss is an opportunity to build resolve. It’s not fun, but it’s a necessary lesson to learn. Without it, you could easily go through life expecting the world to hand you your dreams, which isn’t how that works. Challenges are put in our paths to test us; if we aren’t willing to weather the storm, it will be impossible to have long-term success. You adapt, making the next time you face a setback easier to deal with. A person who can do that will be formidable because they will have the keys to success.

How do you apply the discipline and training regimen from your athletic pursuits to your current leadership role?

It’s all about examining the areas of weakness and turning them into strengths. I want to be dangerous whenever I’m faced with meeting someone. Not in the physical sense but in the ability to know, answer, and have communicable knowledge of my business. All of this takes work and time. I know that from my athletic life, this practice is how you better yourself. At my best, I can also help others be at their best.

Reflecting on your journey, what specific skills or attributes developed through athletics do you believe are most essential for effective leadership?

Effective leadership is built on a foundation of Accountability, Adaptability, Delegation, Selflessness, and Trust. Accountability ensures leaders take responsibility for their actions and decisions, which builds credibility and promotes a culture of ownership among team members. Adaptability allows leaders to navigate change and uncertainty smoothly, fostering innovation and sustainability within the group. By effectively delegating tasks, you empower your team, enhance efficiency, and develop future leaders.

Selflessness and Trust are equally crucial for fostering a positive and collaborative work environment. Selfless leaders prioritize the needs of their team and organization over personal gains, building trust and loyalty. This, in turn, encourages open communication, mutual respect, and a culture of cooperation. Trust strengthens relationships and facilitates effective communication, leading to higher team performance and a commitment to shared goals. These qualities create a resilient and dynamic leadership approach that drives a singular team focus on success.

Based on your experience, can you please share “5 Ways That Athletics Can Help Train Great Leaders?”

1 . Teamwork and Collaboration: Athletics teaches individuals the importance of working as part of a team to achieve common goals. Athletes learn how to communicate effectively, support each other, and combine their strengths to perform better collectively. Team sports foster strong interpersonal relationships, and understanding how to connect with and motivate teammates translates directly to leading a team in any context.

2 . Discipline: Athletes develop a strong sense of discipline through regular practice and adherence to training schedules. This discipline is crucial for leaders who need to stay focused and committed to their objectives.

Sports teach individuals to take responsibility for their actions, both successes and failures. This is a key trait of effective leaders, who must own their decisions and outcomes.

3 . Resilience and Perseverance: Athletes frequently face challenges, setbacks, and losses. Learning to bounce back from these difficulties helps build resilience, a vital quality for leaders who must navigate and overcome obstacles. The perseverance required to improve and succeed in sports translates into the determination leaders need to drive their teams forward, even in the face of adversity.

4 . Strategic Thinking and Decision-Making: Sports involves strategic planning and quick decision-making, often under pressure. Athletes learn to analyze situations, anticipate outcomes, and make informed decisions, skills that are directly applicable to leadership. The dynamic nature of sports teaches athletes to adapt their strategies and approaches in real time, a crucial ability for leaders facing changing circumstances and environments.

5 . Confidence and Self-Esteem: Success in athletics boosts confidence and self-esteem, which are essential traits for leaders. Confident leaders can inspire and motivate their teams more effectively. Sports often provide opportunities for individuals to take on leadership roles, such as team captaincy, where they can practice and refine their leadership skills in a supportive environment.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ve already begun my movement. It started in 2011 while I was bed-bound after having surgery. The “Legacy” series and its universe is the movement. This movement is centered around celebrating and embracing the rich tapestry of cultures from around the world, as depicted through the Legacy universe. By highlighting a diverse array of heroes who embody the strengths of their respective cultures and their unique challenges and virtues, Legacy serves as a platform for storytelling that unites and inspires.

The Legacy universe, with its tangible superheroes — each rooted in specific historical and cultural backgrounds — offers an expansive, inclusive narrative framework that transcends traditional superhero tales. These characters, their struggles, and their triumphs resonate on a global scale, providing not just entertainment but also a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diverse world we inhabit.

By transforming Legacy into a global phenomenon, the movement will leverage the universal appeal of superheroes to foster greater empathy, unity, and cultural literacy worldwide. It would encourage audiences to see the value in every culture’s story while providing a canvas broad enough to include everyone’s hero. This not only entertains but educates and enlightens, cultivating a more compassionate and connected global community.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Please follow me on my socials:

Instagram: @thelegacyxii

YouTube: @Legacy Universe



Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About The Interviewer: Vanessa Ogle is a mom, entrepreneur, inventor, writer, and singer/songwriter. Vanessa’s talent in building world-class leadership teams focused on diversity, a culture of service, and innovation through inclusion allowed her to be one of the most acclaimed Latina CEO’s in the last 30 years. She collaborated with the world’s leading technology and content companies such as Netflix, Amazon, HBO, and Broadcom to bring innovative solutions to travelers and hotels around the world. Vanessa is the lead inventor on 120+ U.S. Patents. Accolades include: FAST 100, Entrepreneur 360 Best Companies, Inc. 500 and then another six times on the Inc. 5000. Vanessa was personally honored with Inc. 100 Female Founder’s Award, Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and Enterprising Women of the Year among others. Vanessa now spends her time sharing stories to inspire and give hope through articles, speaking engagements and music. In her spare time she writes and plays music in the Amazon best selling new band HigherHill, teaches surfing clinics, trains dogs, and cheers on her children.

Please connect with Vanessa here on linkedin and subscribe to her newsletter Unplugged as well as follow her on Substack, Instagram, Facebook, and X and of course on her website VanessaOgle.

J Leonard Costner Of Legacy Universe Publishing: How My Experience in Athletics Trained Me to… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.