Fourth Age Communiqué - Leadership for the rest of us

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Things we can all learn from Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin, the NBA phenom, is seemingly more popular than Tim Tebow. Turn on any sports channel, your local station, or heck - even a White House press briefing - and you'll hear "Lin-sanity" running wild.

Granted, success stories about athletes coming out of nowhere to take their sport by storm are not unprecedented (Tom Brady, Fernando Valenzuela, Mark Fidyrch), but none have been so compelling while in such a media-accessible era. So what is it about this "overnight success" that takes us from zero-to-fixated in no time? Regardless of your life circumstance, Jeremy Lin demonstrates some timeless truths applicable to any team endeavor:

  • Persistence wins out - eventually

    Or, the harder you work, the luckier you get

    Pithy aphorisms aside, there is value to hard work and sticking it out, regardless of the perceived outcome. Persisting is akin to a faith walk; while you cannot be sure how things will turn out, the discipline of developing a skill or mastering a craft is its own reward. And insightful leaders know they need to be good learners first; which leads to ...

  • Be(ing) prepared for the unexpected

    If there is a precedent to the Lin story it is Kurt Warner. His readiness to play, poise in the pocket, and mental toughness allowed him to succeed in a seemingly hopeless circumstance, with his team ultimately winning the biggest game of all. Clearly Lin has not yet turned his proverbial rags into the riches of winning a trophy or league MVP. In fact, his team's record is (only) a remarkable .500. Yet because of his sticktuitiveness, he has proven himself ready and able to step in and deliver on the big stage.

  • Humility breeds loyalty

    Can a person be competitive and selfless?

    Granted, what catapulted Lin-sanity into the media stratosphere was his game-winning three point shot against the Toronto Raptors. But his team's belief in him - and his centeredness - is equally evident after the game.

    Knowing a leader is willing to give credit to others, and show trust in his or her team members, empowers people to be their best. Although people will follow a superhero for a time, being a team-centric player makes others better.

  • Confidence compounds itself

    Taking stock of past successes inspires confidence. And for a team with confidence, challenges unite rather than divide.

  • Don't overlook a diamond in the rough

    Mike Lupica once said a large budget will buy you everything but the heart and soul of a champion. The irony for the Knicks is the best player on the team over the last two weeks is not the superstar they traded for in the offseason; it was the one who fell into their lap, and slipped through the fingers of several other teams in the process.

    Put another way, spending money on big name free agents can bring value, but the best fit for your team is often the one you develop.

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