Those of us who make our living from careers other than sports can learn from both the successes and failures of LeBron and the Miami Heat this year. There are some truths applicable to our business lives that we can glean from the Heat’s unsuccessful quest to win the 2014 NBA championship. I’ve noted 8 truths that can enlighten us all in our quests for significance. Let’s take a look.
- Sometimes, even though you know you’re talented, it’s just not your season.Like LeBron, you know you’re a champion, but sometimes things just don’t work out. Don’t despair. There will be other seasons to compete. And there might even be other teams or organizations looking to entice you to join them. There could be greater things in store for you in seasons to come!
- Even when you excel, the crowd around you might not be supportive of your efforts. Take it with a grain of salt.
- People love to love, and love to hate, a performer who is considered uniquely talented, like LeBron. Their disposition toward such a performer depends on the potential advantage or threat he/she brings to their plans for success. Realize that some people will be banking on your success, and some will be betting on your failure. Don’t take either to heart, and don’t be paranoid – just be aware and do your thing.
- LeBron’s muscle cramps incapacitated him for the last few minutes of the first game of the title series. It was due, in part, to the extremely warm conditions in the venue, we presume. The lesson here for all of us is that sometimes your environment is not conducive to your best performance. It’s a harsh reality, but true nonetheless, when there’s little you can do in some instances to change the environment in which you have to perform. Therefore you must continue to hang in there and do your best, until either you can walk out of your own accord (that’s called resigning in our circles), or they have to carry you out (and that’s called being escorted out in our “arena”). Again, it’s a harsh reality, but we live (and work) in a real world.
- You have to take responsibility for where you fall short. During the final game’s post-game press conference, LeBron repeatedly stated that the Spurs were the better team in the series. In owning up to your failure to deliver, be mindful, however, that there might be those who are more than eager to attribute the failure of the team to the inadequacies of just a few, rather than to the entire team. True champions choke failure down, while others choke up when it comes to accepting responsibility.
- LeBron’s two titles with the Heat in previous years is nothing to be dismissed just because of this year’s title loss. And you, too, are a champion, regardless of today’s failure. Look back to your past successes – as a team member, and as an individual. Take stock of who you are and what you’ve already accomplished.Don’t let anyone convince you that you are a loser. You know that you’ve already accomplished and overcome more than they’ll ever know.
- Not everyone on your team will support your efforts to the same degree and with the same passion that you have for your mission. But you cannot carry the whole team. The popular idea of “putting the team on your back” and to carry it to victory is heroic. But the reality is that Superman exists in comic books, movie theaters, and the hearts of children (or children-at-heart). Last season, you were Superman. This season, you’re the butt of jokes. It takes the entire team. Take it all with a dash of humility and keep pushing. You’re still a champion – a champion with a temporary setback.
- And last, whether you win or lose, your efforts, successes, and failures inspire countless people – instances which you may never realize. Countless fans love LeBron and always will. To them, he’s “the best.” He’ll always be “King James” to them. In your job, it could be the same scenario. Maybe your work was snubbed, your efforts unappreciated, or downright sabotaged in some cases. You “lost.” But maybe your attitude inspired a coworker to keep trying. Maybe your resolve encouraged someone else to go the extra mile, or to emulate your ethics or humility. Your wins far outnumber and outweigh the losses. You are still a champion!
Do the things that matter most come down to one event (project or job, in our case)? Is garnering a spot in a championship and subsequently winning the title the only measure of greatness? We know that’s not true – neither in sports nor in life. It’s the journey along the way, the lives that we touch, and the life lessons we learn that matter. It’s how we grow as worthwhile human beings, the character we build, and the values we demonstrate and teach that make our contributions significant in the big scheme of things. It’s how we improve others’ lives.
There’s a lot left in you – feats that no one has seen. And perhaps even things that no one expects out of you. But you know what’s inside. And you will prove it. Why? Because it’s undeniable. You know you’re a champion. And no one can convince you otherwise.