February 16, 2012
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
I love the Jeremy Lin story – the humble, smart, sudden NBA superstar for the Knicks who until a few weeks ago was sleeping on his brother’s couch and wondering his future with the sport he loved. [If you need to catch-up on Lin-sanity, check out the Washington Post story on how his talent went unnoticed for so long or one of the many New York Times sport columns.]
This is a great basketball story – a living remake of the movie classic “Hoosiers.” It’s an American morality tale of hard work, immigrant family, humility, following a dream, and success against the odds. It’s also a teaching case about how to succeed in an increasing complex world.
Forbes columnist Eric Jackson identifies 10 lessons from Jeremy Lin to enrich our lives and work. Let me post and discuss.
1. Believe in yourself when no one else does. Only the 4th Harvard grad to make it to the NBA. One of only a handful of Asian-Americans to make it. Sent to the Knicks D-League team in Erie, PA 3 weeks ago. Already cut by two other NBA teams before. It’s easy to lose heart in the face of defeat – but where will that get you? Look where faith took Jeremy.
2. Seize the opportunity when it comes up. Lin got to start for the Knicks because they had to start him: too many injured and missing players. Lin made the most of it. Opportunities arise when we least expect them. Will you be ready to make the most of them? Be strong and confident to rise to the new challenge? How can you cultivate the inner strengthen needed for that? It’s not easy to sustain confidence in the face of rejection.
3. Your family will always be there for you, so be there for them. Lin only got his contract guaranteed by the Knicks a few days. His family has been his support: they pick him up when he gets down on himself and make him “continue to believe.” If you want your family to believe in you like that, you’ve got to be there for them when they need it.
4. Find the system that works for your style. Context is everything in leadership – no one is perfect in all situations. Lin isn’t Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant (whom he out-scored the other night, by the way). His style of distributing the ball didn’t work with his other NBA teams. It’s perfect for the Knicks. Know your strengths and find the job or organization that’s a good fit. If you don’t, people will overlook what you bring to the table. Amen!
5. Don’t overlook talent that exists around you. You may have a Jeremy Lin working for or around you now. Pundits say Jeremy wasn’t helped by others’ stereotypes: he’s from Palo Alto High and Harvard. He’s Asian-American. Don’t let assumptions blind you to your other or others’ talents. My own belief: we are all capable of much more than we now show with the right opportunity and support.
6. People will love you for being an original, not trying to be someone else. I love the Judy Garland quotation: Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
7. Stay humble. In interviews, Lin shows humility despite the media frenzy. May we all have the grounding and executive presence!
8. When you make others look good, they will love you forever. The Knicks are playing well because they are playing better as a team – and have been working harder to share the ball since Lin. Lin praises his teammates to the media. Take note!
9. Never forget about the importance of luck or fate in life. To quote Eric Jackson, “Whatever you believe in, be grateful for it.”
10. Work your butt off. Lin was ready to seize his opportunity because his skills were strong from a lot of hard, hard work. Hard work is not glamorous – but there are no short cuts in today’s tough, competitive world.
I add a #11 to the list:
11. Choose hope. Hope is the most powerful form of human motivation. But it is not wishful thinking. Real hope is informed by persistence, hard work, patience, and courage – as seen in the Jeremy Lin story. The New York Times quoted one of Lin’s favorite verses: Suffering produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us (Romans 5:3-5).
Sustain faith in yourself, passion for the contribution you want to make, and the hope necessary to find the right place to make it. Onward!