Oct 29, 2020

Everybody’s All-American, LeBron James, and Leveraging Your Now

Michael Haddix

Life in 2020 is full of changes for everyone, including my newborn son. Lately, he’s decided that his new wake-up time is 5 AM. As a result, I have been getting up early and watching some old school movies.

I watched a great one a few weeks ago: Everybody’s All American. While the movie is almost 40 years old, it is extremely relevant today. Dennis Quaid is an All-American college running back who gets drafted and plays in the NFL, retires and moves back down South. He has it all. Along the way, everyone loves him and everyone wants something from him. He enjoys the fame and attention, but fails to seize on the opportunities his career provides because he just wants to play ball. Once he retires, the people that wanted to be around him have no interest in helping him with a job or much of anything else. They look down on him as an athlete that cannot find his way.

I think everyone, no matter their position, can take a few lessons from this story. And for those looking to take the opposite approach, Lebron James is the perfect example of leveraging your now. We should all take notes.

Use your platform
LeBron has been on center stage for the last 18 years. He knows (or has learned) that it won’t last forever and he has used his platform to maximize his opportunities. Film projects, building schools, launching media networks, investing in others -- he has a diverse set of off-court interests and pursuits that have thrived and grown as his career has soared. What unique networks and opportunities are open to you now that might not be in ten years? If you’re not sure, take some time to think about it, then start reaching out asap.

Be strategic
There are always ways to improve your standing and increase your probability for success. It’s important to know that YOU need to set yourself up now for the future. That may mean taking a job with greater responsibility and exposure. It may mean aligning yourself with the right people. Either way, you can’t sit on the sidelines and wait for something to happen. Set your priorities and make sure the decisions you make keep those priorities in mind. LeBron went to LA for more than just the good weather.

“Just Win, Baby”
In the words of Al Davis, “Just win, baby.” While the window of time to use your leverage may one day close, there is one way to extend your relevance: win. Being good at your job, winning championships, and bringing success to those around you will keep you in the hearts and minds of others long after you’re gone. Do your job well and even after your playing days are over, there will still be opportunities. There’s a reason why we watched The Last Dance, that Magic Johnson is still in the spotlight, and so many Dancing with the Stars contestants have won Super Bowls.

Winning allows you to leverage your now a little longer. So does having a full understanding that "now" is temporary -- whether you're an NBA star or a washed-up jock in an old movie.