Lessons from the Court: Develop the Right Habits

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When I was in early high school my brother told me Dennis Rodman, and NBA rebounding wizard, would study game film of his teammates and map out where their misses would go. Then, when that teammate would shoot the ball, Rodman would move to the spot on the court where the ball would most likely go if his teammate missed the shot.

Impressive reasoning, right?

For the past couple years, playing pickup basketball has been one of my more consistent events week in, week out. Recently I spent some time reflecting on the leadership lessons I can share from my time on the court.

Most of the time when I play pickup basketball, I’m one of the taller people on the court. As a result, I can out rebound most people I play against, but what they often don’t realize is the movement I’m making when the shot goes up.

You see, over time, I’ve developed a sense of where a rebound is going to go. I can tell if a teammate’s shot is short, long, right or left. I even try to pay attention to if they shoot short the more tired they get. Then, I can move toward the basket when the ball is in the air.

When my judgment is on, it can swing the momentum of a game. When my judgment is off, however, it’s not as impressive. Please understand, I’m not a great player. But being in the right place at the right time makes all the difference in the world.

But ultimately, I’ve developed a habit that puts me in position to make a difference.

Leadership is the same way. You can take steps today to develop a habit that puts you in position to make a difference tomorrow. But what steps can you take? Here are a few habits I would recommend establishing:

  1. Learn Constantly. I recently listened to a John Maxwell Co Podcast where the host shared three questions he asks himself every morning: What did I learn yesterday? What will I learn today? Where will I learn today? These questions serve as a great framework to develop a habit of constantly learning.
  2. Look to Serve. Find places where you can make a difference, and be willing to step in to make the difference. As you hone this skill, it will become more and more natural. And if you need a framework to help, check out these questions (surprised?)
  3. Invite Others to Join You. I don’t want to dive too deep into my own insecurities here, but even as much as I enjoy my alone time, I’ve found so much enjoyment in bringing other people in for the journey. Inviting others to join us is when we see our leadership begin to produce results, so why not make it a habit!

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but developing habits like this will definitely help you increase your leadership influence.

Lessons from the Court: Know Your Team

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Have you ever misjudged someone’s character? Have you ever expected someone to do something, only to be disappointed (or even angry) when they don’t follow through? Have you ever wondered what that says about you?

For the past couple years, playing pickup basketball has been one of my more consistent events week in, week out. Recently I spent some time reflecting on the leadership lessons I can share from my time on the court.

One of the tricky things about pickup basketball is you seldom have the same team from week to week. So when teams are divided out, it’s important to know who’s on your team. Here’s why:

You don’t want to pass the ball to the wrong person, obviously. If you have someone around you who is aiming for the same goal (literally), don’t pass the ball to someone who doesn’t have the same goal.

Second, you don’t want to neglect potential on your own team. We don’t mess up only when we pass the ball away, but also when we neglect a teammate. If we’re playing 3 on 3, why would I want to exclude a teammate and essentially make the game a 2 on 3 affair? It doesn’t make sense.

Now, the leadership principles are the same.

As you begin to lead people, you need to take some time to evaluate who’s on your team for the same two reasons.

First, you don’t want to misjudge someone’s motives and hand off a critical task only to realize (often too late) your goals didn’t align. They were shooting for their own target, not yours. And now you have to deal with the fallout.

Second, why would you neglect someone who IS willing to help? If I am completely honest with you, I struggle with this more than I should. It’s not that I willfully neglect anyone, it’s that I feel guilty asking someone (who’s on board) to help. That’s why the three questions are so helpful for me.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, your job as a leader is to make the most of the team you have around you. That starts by knowing who is on your team and who is not.

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