This week, Lebron James was honored at the start of the 2nd round of the NBA Playoffs for being the league’s Most Valuable Player. One thing that Lebron would tell you if asked, is that his path to the MVP title started well before the first game of the season.
During a recent post-game interview, head coach Mike Brown stressed the importance of how much his off season hard work has been paying off. He told a story of how only days after they had just gotten eliminated from the playoffs, his son who came to the practice facility, was astonished that Lebron was there working out and practicing.
Coach Brown used that opportunity to teach his son that to be great, you have to productively work harder than everyone else. Pure talent will get you only so far, as it’s ultimately work ethic that makes a superstar. For Lebron, it’s been reported that things really clicked for him during all of his close contact he had spent with Kobe Bryant during this past summer in preparation for the Olympics.
While some think maybe Kobe gave him some pointers and moves that helped his game, the truth lies in what Lebron realized in himself after spending so much time with the “best in the game”. James already had put in hard work to become the star that he was at the time, but as hard as he was working, he realized that Kobe was taking things even further and working even harder. In order to put himself at the top level that he believed himself to be on, he had to embody the work ethic of somone that had what he wanted so bad, and has been where he wanted to be. To make a long story short, LeBron’s stellar improvements in his shooting and defense were a direct result of him taking the next step in his work ethic to accomplish what was needed to get to the next level in his growth and development as a professional athlete.
Similarly, we all have careers that we are managing, and in an effort to professionally grow and get ourselves where we envision, we must put in maximum effort to get there. As remedial as that sounds, it’s as simple as that. Getting a more seasoned co-worker to mentor you, or by studying the habits and work ethic of someone who is where you want to be professionally are both great first steps. The next step would be to consistently and relentlessly work at bettering yourself, as it’s no secret that old habits die hard. It’s also no secret that it’s what’s necessary to sustain true change.
In my experience interacting with people it seems like everybody wants to be a superstar, but not that many people want to work like a superstar. Thankfully for the NBA (and Cavs fans), LeBron James has realized this early on. At the end of his acceptance speech for his MVP award, Lebron summarized this message to all of the student’s at his high school alma mater, saying “Hard work pays off, and dreams do come true.”