Sometimes It Takes Being Benched to Remind Us Why We Are So Valuable

It is no secret that I am absolutely in love with my work. No different than when I was coaching basketball.

How so?

Well, I love to dig in with a client, whether it be an executive coaching client or a corporate client whom I am consulting. By dig in I mean to get to the root cause of what is keeping us from moving from where we are to where know we are capable of being. What strength can we leverage or what is it we are really good at that for some reason we stopped doing.

Now, I am not a year-round NBA guy, but I do enjoy the playoffs as the stakes are elevated every night and there always seems to be a new storyline and usually about someone the average fan is not aware of.

And…..there is a lesson inside of that story for all of us.

Take Patrick Beverly of the LA Clippers.

Beverly is a 30-year-old NBA vet who serves as an almost wise Uncle to the younger players as he has collected plenty of stories and advice during his journey. He was drafted in the 2nd round in 2009 by the LA Lakers, traded to Miami, waived by the Heat and played in Ukraine, Greece, and Russia before earning another chance with Houston in 2013.

Early in Beverly’s career, he listened to the advice of Will Bynum, a fellow Chicago native and NBA guard for eight seasons. Bynum told Beverly, who was known as a scorer in high school and college, “to carve out his niche on defense.” He told him to play hard even in garbage time. To embrace whatever role created opportunity!

However…..Beverly struggled early this year to buy-in to how Doc Rivers and the Clippers were doing things. Even though he struggled with the how early on, Beverly came to realize that they wanted the same thing…..wins! But Doc and Beverly had different opinions on what his role should be.

In November, Doc sat him down. Then the two talked and like any successful veteran in business, Beverly, despite his strong opinion about how it should be done, embraced Doc’s honest and directness on who things were going to be done. Not only did he embrace it, he accepted it and immediately adjusted his energy and got back to being selfless.

As Beverly said,

Everything kind of fell in place from there. Put the team first.

According to Clippers assistant, PJ Clark, “Pat is all about the team.” “He is going to be inclusive, and he’s going to try and bring everybody into the team concept.”

And, I do mean everybody.

Not too long ago a young Clippers staffer was eating alone during a road trip and was pleasantly surprised when Beverly called him over to join him at his table.

One of the things that makes Patrick Beverly invaluable without being most valuable (all credit to Don Yaeger for that saying!) is his willingness to share his experiences and knowledge with younger teammates such as Clippers reserve Sindarius Thornwell.

Thornwell says, “Pat is the vet that is going to break it down to you, to get you to understand what the coach is trying to get out of you and what you need to do to stay in the league and survive because he’s done all that.”

Beverly’s words have always held incredible value because of the process he followed to be an NBA vet, but the example of embracing his place on the team in November made him more valuable than ever.

Stories such as this take place in business every day.

Veterans changing companies and pushing back on a new way of doing things because they are so used to doing something a certain way.

People having a hard time adjusting to new leadership for one of a number of reasons….whether they are tired of change, tired of having to build a new relationship from the ground up with a new boss for the third time in four years (had a client who was that new boss and it was not easy for him), and some are just too stubborn to get outside their comfort zone after paying their dues.

I also see it in my clients who are VP’s, SVP’s, Directors, CEO’s and Managers where they know they are doing things the right way and have a team of people who “believe in” the process but they have one or two people who have the ability to be invaluable without being most valuable and yet they are holding the team back. It does not necessarily show up as major problems or acting out, just the everyday challenge of not being all-in.

The great leaders find a way to get to those people, to connect. How? They go to where those people are physically, mentally and emotionally. Then they appeal to their why and their purpose and communicate to them that they are important to the team and have a lot to offer when they do things a certain way.

It is okay to set expectations and to have consequences when those expectations are not met. I am talking about the process, responsibilities, and commitments.

The veterans who continue to positively impact their organization and team are the ones who always go back to the basics, the fundamentals, when they are struggling. They are constantly working on their self-awareness and having the ability to take external feedback and do something positive with it, no matter how hard it is to hear at times, is what sets them apart.

Just like Patrick Beverly!

There is no finish line for improving and being selfless. The great veterans realize they have much to offer and have a responsibility to the younger, as well as the newer members, of the team to mentor them and to mirror the behaviors that will make the organization successful.

Where do you fit in? Where do your veterans fit in? What lesson are you going to take from Patrick Beverly’s story and focus on? Is there someone in your organization or on your team who you need to connect with to get them to pivot and embrace your process?

Are you the veteran who needs to go back to the basics, the fundamentals?

Regardless of which person you are, being intentional about taking action will multiply the value you add and continue to build a culture worth fighting for!