You Suck, So Move On: Take it From Ben Wallace

Remember those days when teachers would tell us that if we put our minds to it, we could achieve anything? They were wrong.

Now, not to be a pessimist, I'll explain why.

I grew up thinking I would be the best basketball star in the world. I thought I would rival Michael Jordan, pass like Magic Johnson, and rebound with the best. This was, of course, despite being one of the shortest guys in the classroom. Too bad I didn't know my chances were slim. When we progress through our youth, we pick up mentalities and talents along the way. Either we strengthen our analytical minds or grow our creative minds. Either we grow to empathize or we increase our aggressiveness. We pick up character traits. And of course, we're stuck with our genes. And from all that, we build our inherent abilities--also known as our talents. What to do with it?

Take it from Ben Wallace.

Detroit Pistons rebounding basketball star, reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and four-time NBA all-star Ben Wallace wasn't that good when he came out of college. Coming from a Division II School, he went undrafted by NBA teams. Teams saw that he was too small to play as a center or as a forward. He couldn't score. He couldn't make the game-winning shot. His free-throw percentage from college would be among the lowest one-percentile in the NBA.

But, there was one thing he could do: rebound.

So, Ben Wallace grew his rebounding talents. He constantly worked on his mechanics, his footwork, his art--if you will--on rebounding. He worked on his positioning skills. He learned secrets and techniques to block out other players from rebounds. He conditioned himself to grow his rebounding abilities. He lifted weights to strengthen his rebounding. And through all that, he's now one of the most integral players to the best basketball team in the world. If Wallace had, instead, worked on his weaknesses (e.g. scoring, free-throw shooting), he wouldn't be in the NBA. Instead, he knew his team was surrounded with great scorers and free-throw shooters--so he didn't worry about strengthening those techniques. He knew what he had to work on, and he focused on it.

An epiphany.

As for my less illustrious life, I knew I could never play in the NBA. But, in the event of doing playing it all my life, I developed a talent: competitiveness. And, I'm using it in my business, and seeking to strengthen it everyday. I'm far from perfect, but I now have a clearer roadmap. The same concept applies to your own business. If you're struggling at something, you'll probably find more success by switching perspectives (e.g. business models, industries, etc).

They say great people know one thing well.

And, they focus on it daily. If you're seeking greatness, see where your talents are. Even more important, know your weaknesses. You'll have a better sense of direction.

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Posted on May 09

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