Those of you that know me might be shocked that I even know who LeBron James is, let alone that I’ve learned a few things from him. However, not having lived under a rock for the last few months, the media coverage surrounding “the decision” for him to return to Cleveland has given me little choice. The Nielsen ratings estimate that 9.95 million people tuned in for the ESPN announcement in July – ranking behind the 12.3 million (not including the author) who watched the NFL Pro Bowl and the 11.2 million (once again I am not included, in fact I am not even sure what ICarly is) who watched a special ICarly episode in January. After the broadcast, everyone had an opinion about the $88 million move. Whether or not you agree with whether his new jersey choice is good or bad, or whether it’s rooted in business or personal motivation, LeBron’s got everyone talking.
He has been scrupulously branded and marketed and then rebranded and remarketed. Coming out of high school, he was at the center of a three-way bidding war for an endorsement deal between Nike, Reebok, and Adidas, eventually signing with Nike for $90 million. We “witnessed” endorsements with giants like Dunkin Brands, Coca-Cola, and Samsung. LeBron has been blessed to wake up each morning to look in the mirror at arguably the best basketball player of his generation. Last year, he became the highest-paid basketball player in the world raking in $56.5 million.
But rewind to August of 2011, with the bitter words of Dan Gilbert ringing through the basketball world, the boos were still deafening and the jerseys were still smoldering as the NBA preseason got underway. I have learned that in that same month back in Akron, Ohio, 342 third graders took a pledge. They promised they would go to school, be respectful to their parents, teachers and peers, be active community members, and make good decisions. And they made that promise to their hometown hero, LeBron James. In return, he promised them that he would be the best role model he could be, on and off the court. The I Promise Network was established – one of many positive initiatives of the LeBron James Family Foundation.
I’ve never followed basketball, nor have I been a fan, but lately it’s been almost impossible not to read, hear, or talk about “the decision” and the man behind it. While LeBron hasn’t converted me to a foam finger waving basketball fanatic, I’ve come to realize a few important lessons from all the chatter.
1. You will be measured by the success of your team far more than by your own success. At XPIENT, we get the opportunity to make each other better and ultimately, make our team better. Championships are won by teams.
2. Be present. Somewhere I read that LeBron said, “I treat every day like my last day with a basketball.” In all areas of our lives, there are bound to be distractions, but high performance requires focus on the here and now. Focus on what we can control and stay present so that you aren’t derailed by the inevitable distractions.
3. Do the right thing. LeBron could have gotten all caught up in the outrage and negativity surrounding his move to Miami. Instead, he focused on doing what he felt was right for him, and he continued his good work with the foundation that would benefit his community. Don’t let the right thing get sidelined because of the noise.
4. Enjoying success doesn’t mean being selfish. With all of LeBron’s accomplishments, fame, and wealth, he lives a good life and no doubt enjoys more luxuries than most of us. He has also continued to pay it forward in a big way. When we make it to the top by luck or hard work or a combination of the two, we have an obligation to remember where we came from and give back.
5. Know your value. In business and in life, we all bring talent, resources, knowledge, and expertise to every situation. It is up to each of us to know what we can offer and assign a fair value to it.
6. We all have a duty to take care of each other. Despite our zip code or tax bracket, we each have the capacity to make this world better.
It’s doubtful you’ll find me wearing a Cavs jersey any time soon, but LeBron James has definitely given me something to think about. Who knew?