'Life Hits Everybody'
Many of us feel success should be enough to win over skeptics. But doubt in some capacity almost never dissipates. There will always be a new audience or someone who still isn’t convinced.
It’s an exciting time in sports. Football is underway, tennis just culminated with a thrilling U.S. Open, and baseball playoff races are heating up.
There’s another story, though, that’s drawn far fewer headlines — but has some crucial lessons for anyone battling work frustrations or facing growth obstacles.
Becky Hammon has guided the Las Vegas Aces to the WNBA Finals in her first season as a head coach. Her team leads the Connecticut Sun, 1-0, with Game 2 slated for tonight.
By her own admission, Hammon, 45, is not really where she wants to be right now.
She spent the last eight years alongside one of the NBA’s most revered coaches, Gregg Popovich, drew constant praise from the game’s stars, and interviewed for several NBA top jobs along the way — all to be turned down.
“Two things people always said: ‘You’ve only been in San Antonio and you’ve never been a head coach,’” Hammon said earlier this year.
She grew frustrated, downright angry at times, and had sleepless nights about her career. But she never let her emotions prevail — instead taking action and finally jumping ship to a WNBA situation she felt was a better fit.
There are three key lessons from her mentality that we might be wise to apply:
1. There will always be a persistent need to prove yourself
Hammon was a six-time WNBA All-Star, has played professionally in four countries, and coached for eight seasons in the NBA. drawing high praise from future Hall of Famers. Still, she continuously needs to convey her abilities to people who don’t know her or doubt her credentials.
“I’ve been hit so many times, you just continue to get back up,” she said. “You don’t know any other way.”
Many of us feel like once we’ve achieved some results and exhibited skills, that this should be enough to win over skeptics. But doubt in some capacity almost never dissipates. There will always be a new audience or someone who still isn’t convinced. We can either lament this or view it as an opportunity to prove ourselves. Hammon has chosen the latter.
2. Go where you’re wanted
Hammon could’ve stayed with the Spurs or maybe found her way on to another NBA bench as an assistant, but the WNBA truly wanted her and gave her an opportunity that she wasn’t otherwise finding.
It’s great to set our sights on top organizations with prestigious reputations, but sometimes, we might be best off working for people who appreciate us and recognize our unique skillset as is. If we do a good job there, more possibilities frequently arise.
3. Make them regret the choice
The best revenge is never harsh payback or cruelty. It’s making someone regret his/her decision by exhibiting aptitude, competency and commitment. If we do this, we typically enhance our own reputations, while making the team who turned us down lament its decision.
Ultimately, Hammon’s story isn’t just about hard work or dedication. It’s a masterclass in grit, emotional intelligence and navigating crossroads'. And these skills are as relevant to our own leadership world as they are to the hardwood.
“Life hits everybody,” she said. “How we respond to it is what is eventually going to define us.”