From veteran to rookie. I know that’s not the normal progression, but it’s my story over the past few years. Let me explain.
I’m not exactly sure when I became a veteran on the basketball court. It could’ve been after playing for 4 different teams in 4 different countries in my first 5 years as a professional. It could’ve been after a championship or being named a captain. It could’ve been when I realized I was almost twice the age of some of the young guys who practiced with us. At some point, however, I was a veteran. I was comfortable in my game and knew the value I could bring to any team. I knew how to train my body and my mind. I knew how to prepare. I was efficient with my work. Teammates looked to me for guidance. Coaches involved me in game planning. Management asked for my input in personnel decisions.
While becoming a veteran was a process, I do remember the moment I became a rookie. May 16, 2018 — the day after my last professional basketball game. I didn’t know what my next step would be. No more vet status. I’d be a rookie all over again. A whole new ball game…
This has been my problem. I’ve wanted to rush back into being a veteran again before fully embracing the status of a rookie. I’ve thought I should be further along in my career. I’ve expected more efficiency from myself. I forget about the decade of work it took for me to gain the skill and experience I possessed on the court. It’s important that I go back to the mindset I had when I was just getting started in basketball.
Here’s the power in being green and why I always want to have a little ‘rookie’ inside of me:
- Humility: It’s humbling to go from having answers to asking questions, from advanced to beginner, from experienced to inexperienced, But the truth is, we never have all the knowledge, all the skill, or all the experience in an evolving world. We ask questions because we don’t know it all. We practice because we’re not perfect. We seek out change and innovation because there are breakthroughs beyond the boundaries. All of this requires humility. Each of these acts stems from the belief that I don’t have it all figured out. Therefore, I need to submit myself to coaching and discipline myself to better habits in order to become more.
- Grit: Rookies are willing to grind. They’re never going to be the most productive or most polished, but their energy and attitude make a difference. It’s easier for a rookie to tap into that deep, intense hunger for growth. It’s easier for a rookie to appreciate any role, even the dirty work role. I always want to have that unique combination of appreciation and grit which rookies bring to the game.
Don’t skip steps. I couldn’t possibly be an expert in my new professional field of finance right away. I shouldn’t expect to be the most polished broadcaster from the start. I’ll lean on the knowledge of my colleagues and superiors, and I’ll serve where I can.
But no matter how much experience and mastery we may develop in our craft or career, it’s important to have a bit of beginner in us. Let’s keep that same gritty and growth-oriented approach. Here’s to always remaining a rook!
Stay humble. Stay hungry.