Hello kind reader! Thanks for stopping by! Last Thursday afternoon, we witnessed undoubtedly, one of the best athletes of this generation win his very first NBA Championship. LeBron James' determination and maturity in pursuit of the Larry O'Brien Trophy are indeed admirable and worth writing of. In finally walking away from the NBA Finals a victor, I find three leadership lessons to be learned from the ups and downs of James in his pursuit of a title.
- Perseverance- At age 22, James dominantly and single-handedly lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. The Washington Wizards, New Jersey Nets, and Detroit Pistons were all eliminated by the then two- time NBA All-Star. In James' highly anticipated first appearance in the NBA Finals, he and the Cavaliers were brutally swept away by the veteran San Antonio Spurs. "A lot of people said we were the worst team to ever make the finals and LeBron really used that as motivation," said Mike Malone who coached James for five years in Cleveland. "He made himself an MVP after that; he really worked on his game. But it still felt like a tease because he could see where he wanted to go, but we just couldn't get there." James won the NBA's MVP award twice consecutively as a Cavalier ('08-'09; '09-10) following that ugly sweep by San Antonio. James spent three more years in Cleveland as the team built their franchise around him. His rare mix of size and talent made for an unbelievable scorer, passer, and shot-blocker. With all of the many almost-wins that James and Cavaliers experienced, he rarely sat out from injury, he kept on improving, and every year James made Cleveland serious contenders in the Eastern Conference.
- Leave Your Comfort Zone- James was willing to leave Ohio; his homestate where the legend of LeBron James was birthed and where he was three-time "Mr. Ohio" at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron. The city of Cleveland of course, was outraged by his move to Miami. Cleveland fans held LeBron jersey burnings. The Cleveland Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, made deragatory comments about James, one being that he would never win an NBA title. And in his first visit back to Cleveland wearing a Miami Heat jersey, the crowd booed him every time he touched the ball. LeBron, however, knew his goals of becoming an NBA Champion would not be realized in Cleveland. Pushing through ridicule and ugly backlash from the place he once called home, LeBron pressed onward. Sometimes we have to get out of our own places of comfort to gain new experiences and to grow. Our comfort zones and attachments to the familiar are usually the hindrances to us accomplishing goals and seeing our deepest and largest dreams come to pass. Rarely are incredible outcomes achieved within our comfort zones.
- Humility- We remember watching LeBron storm off of the court after a 45-point performance taking a second round playoff loss to the eventual champion Boston Celtics in 2010. He arrogantly stated to a reporter, "I spoil a lot of people with my play." Immaturity brought about "The Decision," a one hour special aired on ESPN scheduled by LeBron himself to announce to the world which team he would be joining for the upcoming 2010-2011 season. He chose the Miami Heat over a host of teams that courted him throughout his free agency. James joined Dewayne Wade and Chris Bosh, made it to the NBA Finals and took a loss at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. James walked away from the Finals titless, yet again. And yet again, he made arrogant and selfish comments, "All the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today." When frustration sets in, keep your comments few. After this loss, LeBron quietly asked for help from retired NBA Veteran and two-time champion Hakeem Olajuwon. His new mentor taught him that leadership is more than what is seen in the public eye. Looking back James said "I was was very immature." "I played to prove people wrong instead of just playing my game." By seeking the help of Olajuwon, continuing to improve his play, and now having a myriad of experiences to draw from, LeBron now came to see the err of his ways. This season he won NBA Defensive Player of the Year and NBA MVP. On June 21, 2012, the undoubted leader of his Miami Heat team led the franchise to its title in team history and James received the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP award. I remember watching James motion to his younger and giddier teammates to remain composed until the remaining seconds of their Game 5 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a move that the LeBron James of old would have never done. In humility there is teachability. With the teachability births maturity and out of maturity grows responsibility. Leaders are those in positions of responsibility who exemplify the maturity to make wise and sound decisions for the good of those impacted.
Thanks for reading, God Bless.