A Business Lesson Learned From Working at the NBA

In: career

2 Mar 2010

On his blog today, Seth Godin introduced us to the Italian word sprezzatura, which means “being able to do your craft without a lot of visible effort.” While I agree this is a valuable and remarkable trait, it’s too often unappreciated in the corporate world.

Many years ago I worked for the National Basketball Association, and a remark made about our players stuck with me, as it applies to all of us.

“When someone is really good at something, they make it look easy.”

When you watch LeBron or Kobe make a shot, it looks easy. It doesn’t show the years of the practice, the hours of training, and the natural ability the goes into making that game-winning basket. The same holds true in the corporate world.

When you know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be stressed out all the time. You shouldn’t be yelling at others. And you shouldn’t have to be the last one in the office everyday. When you’re good at what you do, whether it’s designing websites, writing legal briefs, or closing sales, there should be a certain grace and ease that comes along with practicing your craft. You should also be enjoying yourself, because after all, who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of being good at something.

The insecurity of being unable to perform amid expectations can lead to bad behavior. I’m sure we’ve all known a boss or executive who was always in a foul mood AND was known to be bad at his job.

So the next time it looks like someone isn’t working hard, maybe they’re just a master of their craft. And the next time someone seems to be working hard, burning the midnight oil, maybe they just don’t know what they’re doing.

It’s important to be able to spot the difference.

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Mark Webster

About Mark Webster

One of the Co-Founders of SideTour, former TechStar (NYC Summer 2011), ex-NBA'er, and past TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Winner.