Jeremy Lin was an unknown a little over a week ago. Now it’s changed. His 38 point performance on 10 Feb for the New York Knicks against the LA Lakers was his greatest performance yet as a starter, since he burst on to the scene and propelled the team to 4 straight wins.
Jeremy, the 191-centimetre son of two engineers from Taiwan, never offered an athletic scholarship, never drafted by an NBA team, dismissed, overlooked, undervalued. A former editor of his high school paper, the As on his report card as straight as the edge of a ruler. With a Harvard degree.
We can all see a little bit of ourselves in Jeremy’s struggles and now successes. What can we learn from him and how can we apply these same lessons to our own lives?
1. Believe in yourself.
Jeremy’s only the 4th graduate from Harvard to make it to the NBA. He’s also one of only a handful of Asian-Americans to make it. He was sent by the Knicks to play for their D-League team. He’d already been cut by two other NBA teams before joining the Knicks. You’ve got to believe in yourself, even when no one else does.
2. Seize the opportunity when it comes up.
Jeremy got to start for the Knicks because they had to start him as they had too many injuries. He could have squandered the opportunity, but he made the most of it. You never know when opportunities are going to arise in life. Often, they’re there when you least expect them. Make the most of them. Don’t fritter them away.
3. Your family will always be there for you, so be there for them.
It wasn’t until a few days ago that Jeremy got his contract guaranteed by the Knicks for the rest of the season. Before that, he could have been cut at any time. He had to sleep on his brother’s couch. His family always believed in him and picked him up when he could have gotten down on himself. This made him continue to believe. If you want your family to believe in you like that, you’ve got to be there for them too when they need it.
4. Find the system that works for your style.
Jeremy isn’t Michael Jordan. He’s not a pure scorer. He’s a passer and distributor – who can also score very well. The system at the Knicks is perfect for him to show off his strengths. You’ve got to understand what your strengths are and then ensure that you’re in a system that is a good fit for those strengths. Otherwise, people overlook the talents you bring to the table.
5. Don’t overlook talent that might exist around you.
You probably manage people at your company today. Are you sure you don’t have a Jeremy Lin living among you? We put people around us in boxes. He’s from Harvard. He’s Asian-American. Not sure he can play or not. How many assumptions have you made about other people around you? Don’t let talent slip through your fingers. Do you know what your people or even yourself is really capable of? Take off the blinders of assumptions you wear when you look at the world.
6. People will love you for being an original.
You’ve got to be you. You can’t be a second copy of Michael Jordan as there will never be another Michael Jordan. Just be yourself; whatever that is. That doesn’t mean you don’t work hard – it just means you find what you’re good at and do it. Fans will love you for being you, just like they love Jeremy Lin. “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
7. Stay humble.
If one day you are lucky enough to have newspapers want to put you on the cover in order to sell more, don’t let it get to your head. It’s been remarkable watching how humble Jeremy remains through all this media frenzy. It makes his teammates and fans love him that much more.
8. When you make others around you look good, they will love you forever.
We didn’t know how good Jeremy’s teammates were, until we saw them playing with him. Jeremy has set his teammates up many times for easy dunks because he drew the defense and then passed the ball. That’s partly why the Knicks are playing so well. They are all working harder to share the ball with others and it’s beautiful to watch. When the media swarms Jeremy, he tells them how good his teammates are. Do the same with your peers and reports.
9. Never forget about the importance of luck or fate in life.
Some people believe in God, some in destiny, some in luck. Whatever you believe in, be grateful for it.
10. Work harder.
Jeremy couldn’t have seized his opportunity if he hadn’t worked like crazy for years perfecting his skills. There are no short cuts to hard work. Success is a by product of that. Get up early, stay up late. Nobody gave Jeremy any free passes. Why should you get any? You can only control what you control and that means you’ve got to work harder than anyone else you know.