I happen to be a rabid fan of college basketball. I literally bleed red and black (well... red at least) for my San Diego State Aztecs.
I’ve been a long-time season ticket holder and attend all of the games, unless I’m out of town on business.
While at a game recently, I watched in delight, as one of our sharp-shooting guards hit three 3-pointers in a row from nearly the same exact spot on the floor. This player seemed unstoppable from beyond the arc. No matter what the opposing team did, the player continued to drain 3-pointers from the outside.
As the first half continued though, this same player no longer was content to catch and shoot the ball. Now suddenly, when he got the ball, he attempted to drive toward the basket looking for layups against the much taller interior players.
The results were as expected...
He had two of his shots blocked... two additional shots missed the mark as he needed to avoid the stretched arms of the taller players and shot the ball while off-balanced... and finally he committed a turnover as he lost the dribble in traffic.
As I was watching this from my seat, I couldn’t help but feel a fan’s frustration with this particular player’s performance.
Why did he feel the need to abandon the things that he did extremely well (long range 3-pointers) and try to do things he wasn’t particularly good at (dribble drives to the basket)?
He is an expert at doing what he does best... why do something different?
Perhaps the young man was trying to prove to himself, his coach, his teammates and the fans that he was a multi-dimensional player who had additional skills beyond that of being a sharp shooter... but this simply wasn’t the case... he was great at one thing and mediocre at the others.
At half-time the coach must have pointed this fact out to him, because in the second half, the player stopped trying to do things that he was unsuited for and focused on the things he does well.
He finished the game as the game’s leading scorer and did not commit another turnover for the rest of the game.
As I was sitting in post-game traffic, I started thinking about what I had just witnessed that evening...
Here was a player who had perfected his talent into a great skill... a skill that he was very successful at performing... but for some unknown reason... he abandoned the very thing that made him successful in order to pursue something different.
Unfortunately, I see this same thing almost every day in business...
I watch in horror as the company’s superstar salesperson gets promoted into a sales management position only to fail miserably.
It’s not for the lack of effort... and in fact... the new sales manager works harder than she’s ever worked before... the problem is that she doesn’t possess the skills and inherent talent necessary to excel at her new sales management job.
That’s because a sales manager’s true job isn’t to grow sales... it’s to grow sales people!
This person isn’t a sales manager... this person is a sales person... they should stick to doing what they do best.
In the same way, we wouldn’t expect the salesperson to be great at accounting or engineering... those are completely different skill sets.
I’ve also seen where the "creatives"... those people at a company who are charged with creating and developing new ideas... are saddled with writing reports, following antiquated and bureaucratic procedures, and developing fiscal projections.
This is not what creatives are supposed to be doing... they should be creating fresh new ideas... not completing departmental P&Ls or writing sustainability reports...
I suppose that there is an argument that a person needs to be developed into a more "complete" well-rounded individual... someone who understands the "big picture" and can grow into new and more challenging positions within the company.
Can you imagine hiring an auto mechanic who regularly only uses one tool to fix your car?... however the idea isn’t about limiting the tools used to create an outstanding performance... it’s about limiting the scope of the work.
While it is true that a great mechanic learns to use all of the tools in his tool box... the mechanic still just works on cars... he isn’t expected to fix your water heater at your house (although he might have the mechanical talents to do this work as well)... fixing water heaters is not what they do best.
The main idea here is that we have certain God-given talents that we are good at.
We should be working hard to honing those "good" talents into "great" talents... by developing our natural skills into our own "unstoppable shot".
Micheal Jordan was the best ever at hitting clutch jump shots... but he gave it all up to try and hit a curve-ball... and struck out in the process...
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