Like, even with all of this being said … man … it still hurt. It still hurt bad. And I hope people can understand that when I say it hurt, it isn’t directed at anyone. I’m not saying I was hurt by anyone, or wronged by anyone, or betrayed. I’m just saying, man, I’m only human. I may act like a tough guy on the court. And I may seem like I have ice in my veins when I’m competing. But it ain’t ice, really. I got blood and I got a heart like everyone else.
Entering my eighth season of working for a professional sports team (5 with the Boston Red Sox, now entering my third with the LA Clippers), I chose to work in this industry because in many ways, it exposes so purely what it means to be human.
Isaiah Thomas eloquently explains in his piece for the Players’ Tribune his expressly human reaction to being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Boston Celtics, what loyalty means, how it does and doesn’t exist in business. And most importantly, in my opinion, how grateful he is to the C’s for affording him the opportunity to be great at his craft.
Everyone’s got their numbers and statistics all crunched — and all these experts, man, they think they have this entire league figured out. But they ain’t never figured me right. And they ain’t never figured the importance of having a winning culture — from the fans, to the players, to the coaches, to the front office, all the way up to the top. And we had that here. This was the first place, the first organization, the first group of fans in the league that didn’t take one look at me, take one look at my size, and put me into the same role as always. The Boston Celtics let me have a chance to be great. And I’ll never forget that.
We can learn from Isaiah’s words here, that sometimes people aren’t in the right role, and when an organization chooses to make a concerted effort to invest in and discover their talents, even and ESPECIALLY if not previously seen, that’s good business. That’s good people strategy. That’s talent management with intent.
If businesses could consistently find ways to build value around what makes their people great, we’d see some amazing things. Certainly there are challenges to this, including risk to ROI should people leave. But I’d also argue not doing so is a greater risk, a risk that talented individuals won’t feel like they’re contributing in a way that’s meaningful to them and will leave anyway, on their terms and not at the will (or desire) of the business.
So I challenge you, what’s your greatness? Are you exercising what makes you great at your job? And employers – do you know what makes your people great, and are you taking advantage of their strengths?
Remember: We are all human. Humans are different by nature. In these differences lie our greatness. Find your greatness. Remember you are human. Repeat.