Most of the world has, by now, heard of the basketball phenomenon known as Linsanity – the improbable rise to fame of Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. While his story provides a number of lessons for those aspiring to a career in professional sports, it can also be an important primer for those of us in every other field of work.
If you’ve somehow missed out on the story, Jeremy Lin is an Asian-American, Harvard graduate who was overlooked by all the experts in professional basketball. He wasn’t drafted to play for a team, and spent much of the last several years either in a developmental league or sitting on the bench in the NBA.
After he was released by his last team, the New York Knicks picked him up. They quickly reverted to conventional wisdom, however, and sat him on the bench … until injuries forced the coach to put him into the starting lineup several weeks ago. Since then, he has scored more points and dished out more assists (in a 5, 6, or 7 game stretch) than any other player in pro basketball history – including the biggest starts of the game.
For the fans, he’s become the little engine who could. He’s not the tallest or most talented player in the lineup, but he excels just about every time he steps on the floor. His accomplishment is so extraordinary, he’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated not once, but twice over the past couple of weeks.
While that kind of performance makes the fans go “Linsane,” however, it’s what he does for his team that holds the greatest lesson for us. When the team lost its shooting stars to injuries and family matters, Lin stepped up and scored points. Now that the stars have returned, he has scored fewer points but increased his assists – his passes to others so they could score.
As his example shows, excellence is achieved in many ways. The key to a successful career, therefore, is knowing how to shape your peak performance so that it optimizes success, not just your own, but that of your team, as well. Do that, and you’ll earn your own version of Linsanity.
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Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System and Recognizing Richard Rabbit. Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.