The NBA Playoffs are starting this weekend!
I, along with millions of other fans, am very excited, especially because my Golden State Warriors are back after missing the playoffs the last two seasons. Woo! If you know me at all, you know how much I love sports, both as a spectator and an athlete. If you read this blog at all, you also know how I appreciate the way sports can teach us important career and life lessons.
Here are three that came to mind as I thought about my favorite NBA team’s road to this point.
Resilience in the face of challenges
Well, the whole world has dealt with major upheaval over the past two years, and we are still figuring out the way forward, but within that context I’m sure we all faced our own individual and specific challenges. The Warriors had severe injuries to many of their best players. Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and especially Klay Thompson all missed significant amounts of time and battled serious, potentially career-ending injuries before returning this year. Their road back from injury is inspiring, as is the commitment to health and fitness all the players demonstrate.
Lesson: Remain positive and focused on the goal in the face of adversity.
Respect for your teammates
These guys trip over each other trying to be the first to compliment the other. They talk about their teammates’ work ethic, commitment to rehab, great attitude, the amazing shot they made or blocked or even just tried to make. They do not blame or tear each other down. They talk about how they personally are inspired by their teammates’ example and protect them publicly when asked questions about a bad play. They try to build up each other’s confidence. Now for sure you see plenty of sideline screaming or hear about unhappy locker rooms, but those teams are not usually winning championships.
Lesson: Treating your coworkers with respect leads to better outcomes.
Commitment to mentor others
I was lucky enough to be at a Warrior’s practice recently, and I witnessed Draymond Green talking to his younger teammates as they participated in a drill.
He urged them, “Listen to what the veterans are telling you. They’ll let you know where to go and what you need to do. You don’t have to guess.”
It is so important to help those who are new get acclimated and up to speed. Seeing veteran players taking the time to pass their wisdom and experience on to their younger teammates was great. They demonstrated true leadership in understanding that their role is not just to “play basketball” but to also be a teacher and mentor to others.
Lesson: It’s up to everyone to support and prepare the next generation to step into our shoes, whether they are a size 8 or 18.
I realize that million-dollar athletes are not representative of the average worker and their lives are far different than most of us. But truly, the basic concepts are the same. Each person gets ahead when the team does well. Focusing only on yourself may get you short term attention but not longer-term gains or success. Blame and anger are not as successful as coaching and encouragement in changing people’s behaviors. Work is a team sport. Life on this planet is a team sport. We are all better off when we realize that and act accordingly.
Now, let’s go Warriors!! (and good luck to all the others!)