Jeremy Lin is sensational. But you don’t need me to tell you that.
Everything you hear about this guy makes you say “Wow!” But why does he really speak to us? Why does he speak to me? I guess it’s because we’re all underdogs. We’re all pushing against something that seems immovable. We all wonder at times: “what’s the point?” We all pushing towards our dream and yet have to “wake up” to reality everyday.
And sometimes it really sucks.
And then out of the blue we hear about this kid who was underdog. Who was the last on the bench, overlooked, and underutilized. Who went through the same pain we do. Dealt we the same obscurity we do. And everyday had to “wake up” to the same reality we do. And yet he made it. So wait a minute…if he can make it… then dagnabbit why the heck can’t I??!! Maybe that’s why he speaks to me…to us?
There are some powerful lessons from this guy, namely:
1. True Leaders Have Vision
It’s the main thing that separates leaders from managers. Leaders have the ability to see the whole terrain and make changes accordingly; while managers operate from the agenda leaders set. Or another way of saying it: leaders see A to Z while managers see A…to B…to C…to D and etc. Both need the other to be at their best–leaders need managers as much as managers need leaders.
Lin is credited for his amazing court vision by most analysts. He sees things that other don’t see and therefore does things that others don’t do.
The ability to focus is what sets leaders apart from counterparts
The Bible is very clear,
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18 KJV)
2. True Leaders Make the Team Better
I didn’t know Tyson Chandler was this good. Did you? What about Steve Novak? What about the bench warmers? None of us did. There’s no way they should’ve played this good…especially without Melo, Stroudemire, or Davis. But they did.
All because a true leader is now in front.
He gives a 100%, is selfless, and the team simply feeds off that. True leaders find ways to make the team better. In fact, the truest Leader gave everything He had to make His team the best:
“Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything He does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.” (Eph. 5 :26-27 MSG)
3. True Leaders are Broken
Like muscles fibers that are abused to become better–true strength comes out of brokenness. Lin knows what it is to be broken.
For the truth is, there are MANY times when God doesn’t immediately come through.
In an interview with ESPN, he spoke about the tough times before his break:
“There were nights last year where I was reduced to tears. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
For years he struggled on that road of brokenness. Even though he went to Harvard, Ivy League schools aren’t allowed to grant athletic scholarships. So that means he paid for his ticket out of his own pocket, and whatever financial aid he got. Then he went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, was signed with the Golden State Warriors, only to ride the bench for the majority of the season. Then he got cut by the Warriors , got picked up by the Rockets, then got cut again after two weeks.
But that pain produced power in Lin…a power that is not even his own. Paul told the church at Colosse,
“We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making Him proud of you as you work hard in His orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul-not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.” (Col. 1:10-12 MSG)
Truth is: light afflictions only prepare the way for greater glory.
4. True Leaders Make Mistakes
Last season he had an EXTREMELY high turnover percentage. But he also had high assists stats. What does that mean? It means, he’s willing to make many mistakes to get the win.
True leaders are not afraid to fail. They understand that mistakes are not bad.
But failure has produced some of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen:
- Michael Arlington had four business failures before he succeeded with TechCrunch
- R.H. Macy failed seven times before his NY store caught on
- Michael Jordan failed more than he succeeded: lost over 3000 games, missed over 9000 shots at goal, and 26 times he missed the winning shot
- Robert Kiyosaki failed in his first business and ended up broke and being hounded by creditors
- Henry Ford filed for bankruptcy with his first company–Detroit Automobile Company
- Lady GaGa had doors slammed in her face, DJ’s who didn’t want to play her records, music execs who thought she was nuts, and was signed to Def Jam Records but then was dropped after 3 months…before she sold more than 15 million albums, 51 million singles worldwide and became one of Forbes most powerful celebrities
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:17 NLT)
True leaders persist in spite of mistakes, delays, and temporary defeats.
5. True Leaders Stand Out
In a recent ESPN interview, Lin was asked what he said to himself before his breakout game against the Nets.
I said ‘I’m gonna go back and play this next game just as aggressive if not more aggressive.’ Last year I was trying not to make mistakes I was trying to fit in. This year I said ‘you know what I’m giving every thing I can to this year. And I’m going to make I sure I do it my way. If it doesn’t get me where I want to go I can live with that. But one thing I know: if I go down, I’m going down fighting.’”
There was an article about Lady GaGa in Fortune. In the article, it showed her resolve to stand out:
“In an interview last winter, Lady Gaga recalled her anguish at being ignored as she performed at a bar filled with drunken NYU students. No one paid the slightest attention to her until, fed up, she decided to strip down to her lingerie. ‘I started playing in my underwear at the piano and I remember everyone was all of a sudden like ‘Whoa!’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you’re looking at me now, huh?’”
According to Seth Godin, “remarkable” is a necessity today because people don’t pay top dollar for “ordinary.” It’s on this principle that made Apple one of the world’s most valued companies by market capitalization. It’s simple: Apple makes exceptional products that continually raise the bar making it hard for competitors to catch up.
But standing out is risky.
When Jobs wanted to create a store that would reach out to the masses he did it with a nervous board; as many saw it a risky cash drain. But he wanted to create “an experience” for the Apple user. And that “risk” has paid off in billions!
Lin’s risk has paid off for him and the city of NY.
The truth is: leaders aren’t supposed to fit in. They weren’t designed to fit it. Sometimes it’s hard to take because we all seek to be accepted…but you were not meant to fit it…you were meant to stand out. Jesus said,
”Let me tell you why you are here…You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand-shine! “ (Matthew 5: 13-16 MSG)
6. True Leaders are Industrious
Leaders become leaders by being fearless and being industrious.
There’s no other way!
The Bible says,
“Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28 AMP)
It was a killer industriousness that caused Lin to thrive and it’s what cause leaders to thrive. And there’s something about that industrious spirit that makes God smile. I mean someone who will kick, scratch, claw, and fight in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. Don’t get me wrong: there are times when all we can do is look to Him for help. But then there are those other times He opens doors as we move forward: ”Then the Lord told Moses, ‘Quit praying and get the people moving! Forward, march!’” (Exodus 14:15 TLB)
In fact, when Jesus spoke about the resourcefulness of a manager He said:
”Now here’s a surprise: ‘The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way-but for what is right-using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.’” (Luke 16:8-9 MSG)
Leaders don’t wait for something to happen, they make it happen–they’re playmakers.
But what else makes Jeremy Lin a good leader? Are these good qualities a leader should have? What are your thoughts?