Know Your Role

As I’ve watched the college basketball season unfold, the importance of players knowing and embracing their roles is evident.

Teams with poorly defined roles have no anchoring identity. Their chemistry is off.

Players unsure of how to use their abilities within the team are struggling. They’re either not playing or not playing up to their potential. 

But the teams with individuals playing to their strengths in a cohesive way are exceeding expectations. And the players who understand who they are and how they bring value to their team are producing at a high level. 

My college coach, Bruce Weber, used to say, “Do what you can do.” 

Simple? Yes. But not easy for a young player who’s developing and wants to expand his game. The college freshman went from being the go-to-guy on his HS team one year ago to being a reserve or role player at the next level. The transfer played for a different coach in a different system with different teammates the previous year. Those role transitions are rarely seamless. 

Growing up, I always played point guard. I could shoot it, but I developed more as a creator than a scorer. When I got to Illinois, I saw that in order to get on the court, I needed to improve my ability to play off the ball. I still worked on my ball-handling, but I learned how to play without the ball in my hands. Along with improving my defense, that’s where the opportunity was to see the floor, and it paid off. I was a walk-on after I transferred from Dayton, but I became a starter and one of the leading scorers on the team.

As a pro, my ceiling was going to be higher as a lead guard. That’s the position I had to fill in order to progress to better leagues. I needed to be able to run a team and learn how to operate in ball screen actions – something I seldom did in college but was a focal point of every European team’s offense. I progressed as a pro because I knew I was a better leader of a team than trying to be a leading scorer for a team.

And now, I find myself in two completely opposite roles…

In business, I’m more of a creator (and not an expert). I’m new to the financial industry, but I try to create opportunities (build relationships and attract new clients) for my firm. I’m more of the ‘PG’ as a connector. I understand who the experts are, and my goal is to make connections allowing the experienced professional to finish the play.

As a broadcaster, I’m more of a scorer (also an expert). I have experience and know the game of basketball, but I’m not a polished professional or supposed to set the table for the others. That’s the role of the host or play-by-play person. They run the show and will tee me up to offer insight and conclusions.

It’s important I know my role and how it works within the concept of the team/business/show.

Know your role. Play to your strengths. Understand how your game fits into your team’s gameplan. Impact will follow. 

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