It's amazing how time can change perceptions. Just two years ago the basketball world was hailing Steph Curry as having arguably one of the greatest individual seasons of all time from a statistically perspective. He made over 400 3-pointers (the hardest shot to make) when no player had ever made more than 300! And his team won a record 73 games. However, at the end of the playoffs they lost the Championship to LeBron James, Kylie Irving and Cleveland Cavaliers. Since then he has seemed to fade away from the spotlight of those considered the best players in the league.
He won the MVP award after the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but he wasn't even in consideration for the award in 2017. And even though his team, the Golden State Warriors, won the championship this past season, most people gave the credit to new addition, Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the world.
Related: 7 Lessons to be a MVP Like Steph Curry in Your Business and Community
Nevertheless, I believe 2017 was his greatest year ever. Was it because he had the best statistics of his career? No. It was Because he demonstrated a character trait that most high- performing athletes - and high-performing leaders in all walks of life - rarely exude. HUMBITION.
I define humbition as a combination of humility and ambition. It’s a blend of possessing a strong desire to succeed tempered by the ability to submit to a cause greater than individual success. For a person to demonstrate humbition they have to possess a strong character, because it's not an easy trait to utilize for very driven people.
When Durant signed with the Warriors, Curry stated he didn’t mind making room for the former MVP on the team if it meant winning another championship. He recognized that although they were already very good, they would be seemingly unbeatable with Durant’s unique skill set on board. And true to his word, Curry adjusted his game to allow Durant to fit in smoothly. And sure enough the team won its second championship in three years at the end of the 2017 season.
Curry embraced what many community leaders seem to forget, and that’s what’s most important is achieving the goal, not who gets the glory for it. You should be ambitious and have big goals for yourself and your organization. There would be no big impact without people who have big goals. However, you should never let the pursuit of your personal goals get in the way of engaging with others in your community who have the potential to multiply the positive impact on those who are underserved.
One key to making this happen is identifying the skills and strengths of all those inside and outside the community who want to contribute to its development, and then exploring ways to most effectively complement one another. Another important aspect of combining talents is having a shared vision and goals that all involved individuals and organizations can agree upon and are willing to contribute to.
Our communities certainly need people with big visions, audacious goals, and a strong hunger to succeed. But surely if a team of highly talented, big-ego basketball players can submit to one another like Steph Curry did to win a championship, highly talented leaders with big ideas can learn to work together in our communities for the good of our communities.
Unless you were living under a rock, you couldn't escape the shear excitement, fascination, and bewilderment when Steph Curry effortlessly launches one of his vintage moonshoot 3-pointers and it slices through the rim barely disturbing the net. The stands are packed hours before his games start as fans clamor to watch him go through his pre-game routine. Last season he won the MVP award for the NBA. This year he was so much better that one TV analyst said he should win the this year's NBA award for Most Improved Player. Statistically speaking, no player in the history of the game has improved upon an MVP season to the level that he has.
So what has led to Curry's rise as one the of NBA's best players if not the best. Let's look at seven lessons we can learn from Curry that can elevate your work performance.
1) Unparalleled preparation leads to unprecedented performance. Curry didn't just get good overnight. In the off-season he uses an extremely unorthodox training regimen to prepare himself for the grueling 82-game NBA season. Some of the exercises and drills he performs don't even seem like they relate to basketball, but now you can see the end result. If you desire to perform in your career beyond all expectations and surpass all your goals and expectations, in your preparation you have to be willing to do things that others aren't willing to do. It's not just about working harder than everyone else. It's about preparing harder when nobody else is around.
2) Turn your talent into skills. Talents are based on natural abilities. Skills are enhanced abilities. Talents are given. Skills are developed. Being the son of a former NBA player, Curry was born with ball-shooting talents that most people only dream of. However, success is not a birthright. He still had to invest the time to practice and dedicate himself to becoming one of the NBA's best shooters (some even say he's the best shooter of all time). Most young professionals are extremely talented. Unfortunately, too many of them don't apply the time and discipline needed to hone their natural talents into transferable, work-relevant skills. In fact many CEOs today say that most college graduates are entering the workforce with knowledge, but without critical job skills
3) Perfect your skills into expertise. Although he had the natural genes to be a greater shooter (his dad Dell Curry spent more than 15 years in the NBA), Steph still works on his game endlessly. He is what's know as a "gym rat." He's usually the first one in the gym and the last one out, trying to get up as many shots as possible. One story said he shoots until he makes 500 three-pointers. That means he has to shoot maybe 2 to 3 times more than before he will leave the court. It not good enough to be talented. You need to become an expert. So although you have great skills, what is your practice regimen like to become the best in the world at what you do?
4) Turn your setbacks into strengths. Early in his career he had many ankle injuries that limited his playing time and potential. It seemed like every time he was about to move to the next level an ankle injury would slow his development. It was until his off-season strength and conditioning figured out why his ankles seemed to be so fragile. Once the issue was discovered, they developed a very unique workout routine that has allowed to strengthen his ankles in a way that ankle injuries are mostly a memory. The additional benefit of his routine is that it also improved his hand-eye coordination, dribbling skills, and agility. What have you learned from your failures that you can turn into competitive advantages? How can you build on your setbacks to develop new skills and abilities?
5. Don't let opinion or criticism or traditions (other's expectations) limit your boundaries. Curry is often underappreciated and underestimated because of his slight build. A lot of NBA players are taller and more muscular. But what he lacks in size and girth, he makes up for in speed, agility, and ridiculous shooting skills. When he is in a hot shooting streak, he is almost impossible to guard because he has developed an incredible knack to make impossible shots look easy. What knowledge, skills, or resource do you have that others would consider a disadvantage, but you can actually use to your advantage?
6. You can have fun after you've put in the hard work. When he's on the court many times it looks like he's having more fun than everyone else. You can easily tell that he finds joy and enjoyment in playing this game. Do you find joy in running your business or serving in your community? If you don't you need to ask yourself why. If you can't come up with a good answer maybe you need to go do something else
7. Live with fearless faith! I was super excited to hear that Steph Curry is a Christian. During a 2013 interview with Active Faith Sports, he said, "I try to use each and every game as an opportunity to witness... It's a way to kind of preach the message in little ways that I can. Each game is an opportunity to be on a great stage and to be a witness for Christ." He lives his faith through his profession. His excellence is a demonstration of God's glory. Your business or community engagements is your platform to shine for God. How are you using it for His glory?
You may not be a well-known, record-breaking basketball player like Steph Curry, but you still bring something significant to your customers or your community. You can be a MVP to those you have the opportunity to serve every day. To the world you may not be anybody, but to somebody you may be the world!
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Amos Johnson Jr.
Brotha Online Magazine
Business as Mission
The High Calling