This year, Lebron James scored his fourth league MVP award, just one vote shy of what would have been a history-making unanimous vote. It certainly goes without saying he deserved it. He’s had a great season, being the only player in the league to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, and assists per game, amongst various other ridiculous stats and accolades.
Unfortunately, not all of us have the natural gifts required to win MVP awards in the NBA (despite what middle-aged YMCA court regulars may think). But that’s not to say corporate ladder-climbers and small business owners can’t become MVPs in their own arenas.
Below are a few lessons we could all learn from the latest NBA MVP to help us become MVPs in our own careers and industries.
1. You work for a team
When things are going great at work and you’ve just landed a new account or reached what seemed like an unattainable goal, it can be easy to get caught up in the elation and recognition, forgetting about the support system around you that got you there. Don’t fall into that trap. It’s unbecoming and can come back to bite you later. Lebron James knows he is a star, but he also recognizes his team at every opportunity. He gives credit where credit is due after every game.
What’s more, Lebron recognizes when someone else is in a position for success and dishes them the ball. It’s the very reason he leads the team in assists. He knows his talents alone won’t take him all the way (he didn’t win a Championship in Cleveland, did he?) and depends on a talented team of individuals who are just as passionate as he is and just as capable of success.
2. Keep your eye on the prize
This is sometimes hard to remember during the day in and day out grind of work life But goal-setting for your career is a proven method of success. The process starts with creating your goal, or prize.
For Lebron James, the prize is more obvious. It’s the Championship. ESPNews, available with some cable packages, had an inspiring highlight reel of Lebron’s MVP statements. In it he stated “My ultimate goal is to win an NBA championship…It wasn’t to win MVP trophies…”. That statement says it all. Because Lebron shows focus, he doesn’t let the other accolades slow him down. He sees the pot of gold and pursues it, no matter how far off in the distance it may be. And he might very well get that pot of gold again this year.
Set a career goal for yourself and pursue it with an unrivaled passion and you too could become an MVP, or win whatever your “championship” may be.
3. Be a leader
There are countless books, videos, and resources dedicated to what it takes to be a good leader, many of them with conflicting philosophies. But all of them agree on one thing: you have to start by becoming one. Having a leadership role gives you decision-making responsibilities, managerial responsibilities, and challenges to overcome. The experience from all of these things will inevitably elevate you, and if you’re smart, the others around you (see Lesson 1).
Lebron is a natural leader not only because of his raw talents but because he inspires others and often pushes others beyond their normal capabilities. For this reason, he is nominated to his position, organically, by those around him.
But social nomination is not the only way to become a leader. Often the task is given to the person brave enough to simply raise their hand. If your company has committees, clubs, or is giving out some additional responsibility, volunteer for the job. Prove yourself in the position and you’ll be an MVP in no time.
If you want more information about Lebron’s leadership-specific lessons, Forbes had a nice piece last year.
Careers rewards and industry recognition await those who keep these lessons in mind. Follow in the footsteps of Lebron and see yourself reach new heights. Not literally of course…they won’t make you any taller for the NBA. But do expect more MVP high-fives from your boss and colleagues.