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Dribbling a Basketball And Your Career

basketball, Career management, career advice, career crisis, career identity crisis, career management, career planning, career strategies, dribbling, Getting Promoted, industry associations, job retention, personal branding, professional associations, professional developmentThis is a guest blog post by Greg Johnson on career management.

Growing up with sports, I see a lot of correlation between sports and career management. A while back I wrote about how free throws relate to interview preparation. And recently at a workshop, a metaphor dawned on me of how little kids dribble in a basketball game, and how this relates to the way many adults approach their career management.

I don’t know if you have ever had the pleasure of watching little kids learning to play basketball, but this can be very entertaining. I had the great opportunity to coach both of my sons’ basketball teams as they were growing up.

One of the fundamentals of basketball is dribbling.

However when kids learn to dribble, their eyes and attention are so focused on watching the ball that they cannot see what is going on around them. In a game situation this almost always resulted in one of three things:

1. Because the dribbler is so focused on the ball, he or she doesn’t see the defender come and take the ball away.

2. Because the dribbler is so focused on dribbling full speed ahead, they do not look where they are going and dribble into a corner to be trapped by the defense and loose the ball.

3. Because the dribbler is so focused on dribbling full speed ahead, they do not look where they are going and end up too far under the basket and cannot shoot.

How does this relate to career management?

Well, most professionals are so focused on their tasks and projects (dribbling), that they don’t see what’s happening around them. They assume that if they just focus and get the job done, they will be noticed and get promoted. However they do see how their teammates or co-workers are playing. As well as how they may impact or may be impacted by their co-workers.  Suddenly they find themselves at the end of a project that isn’t working. They are stuck in a corner.  Suddenly they find themselves in the middle of a restructuring to save costs and the ball is taken away from them. They find themselves under the basket. With no place to go, no options to get in a position to score.

When I coached the kids, I gave them drills and taught them how to dribble. And to do it with their head up to see the court, the basket and their teammates. This gave them options to find the best way to advance the ball and have the best opportunity to score.  I taught them cross over drills for dribbling, how to pivot and change directions. And I taught them how to protect the ball while seeing what teammates were doing.

It’s the same for career management

By keeping your head up, seeing what is going on around you, you are able to adjust. Continuing your professional development is critical, as is networking particularly in professional and industry associations. By doing these, you will see changes or obstacles coming. You will be able to pivot and change directions. And always keep your vision of the basket and your teammates. This gives you the best opportunity to score.

Thanks DeusXFlorida (2,093,896 views) – thanks guys! for the photo via Flickr. 

Written by: Greg Johnson
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Categories: Career Advice

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