NBA Sensation Lin's Lesson to Managers

Susan Hall
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New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin's popularity seems similar to that of a shooting star. It's a compelling story: Harvard grad and Asian guy defying stereotypes to make it in the NBA. Then being cut by two other teams before being picked up by the Knicks. Then seizing the opportunity when injuries forced the team to use him as a starter.


In a Forbes article, writer Eric Jackson pulls out 10 lessons from the Lin story for the rest of us working stiffs. But No. 5 is for managers: Don't overlook talent around you that might exist on your team. Writes Jackson:

Are you sure you don't have a Jeremy Lin living among you now? How do you know that "Mike" couldn't do amazing things if you gave him a new project to run with? How do you know "Sarah" isn't the right person to take the open job in London that you've been talking over with your colleagues? We put people around us in boxes. He's from Harvard. He's Asian-American. Not sure he can play. How many assumptions have you made about talent around you? Don't be like the General Managers in Golden State and Houston, and let talent slip through your fingers. With all their money, scouts, and testing, they didn't have a clue what they had in their hands. Do you know what your people (or even yourself) is really capable of? Take off the blinders of assumptions you wear when you look at the world.

That article brought to mind a piece by children's author Stephanie S. Tolan entitled, "Is it a Cheetah?" that's aimed at parents of gifted children and educators. The fastest animal on land, the cheetah can reach 70 mph from a standing start in 3 seconds. But how do you recognize a cheetah when it's not running? And what if a cheetah has no opportunity to run?


Writes Tolan:

Schools are to extraordinarily intelligent children what zoos are to cheetahs. Many schools provide a 10- x 12-foot cage, giving the unusual mind no room to get up to speed. Many highly gifted children sit in the classroom the way big cats sit in their cages, dull-eyed and silent. Some, unable to resist the urge from inside even though they can't exercise it, pace the bars, snarl and lash out at their keepers, or throw themselves against the bars until they do themselves damage.

Perhaps you have people on staff like that, just yearning for the chance to run. Perhaps they don't have the signature spots to make them easily identifiable as a cheetah, but you certainly don't want to be like the general managers in Golden State and Houston who let a Jeremy Lin slip away.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Feb 16, 2012 12:01 PM Marc Hall Marc Hall  says:

I have loved following his story since he broke onto the scene! Every game I think that the magic will go away but all he does is Lin!

There are lots of applications for an inspirational story like this, especially in business. I've encouraged all of my coworkers to read the Forbes post on Lin. Thought it was great!




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