Basketball player P.J. Tucker’s stats are unassuming. He doesn’t average a lot of points or take as many shots as most players in the National Basketball Association (NBA). No, P.J. Tucker does the little stuff, the things that don’t show up on his stat sheet.
Tucker was a high school star, earning North Carolina Player of The Year in 2002 and committing to play at the University of Texas. Using his superior athleticism, Tucker excelled enough at Texas to be drafted into the NBA.
Just when he thought he had it made, things took a turn for the worse. Tucker was let go after one season in the NBA and received no contract offers from other NBA teams. He was undersized for an NBA player at his position, and his scoring ability, a strength in college, did not transfer to the NBA. He was a good rebounder and a smart player, but it just was not enough to earn him a spot on another team. He spent the next four years bouncing around European leagues, at one point being on a team that dissolved midway through the season due to bankruptcy.
His experience in Europe, however, allowed him another chance in the NBA. In Europe, Tucker reinvented himself and focused solely on his strengths. He figured out what his superior NBA talents were, (rebounding, defense, and hustle) and focused on those talents. He knew that if he emphasized his strengths, he would be able to make an impact on an NBA court. After 6 long years, in 2012, he was noticed and signed by the Phoenix Suns, and today, 9 years later, he is playing in the NBA finals on the Milwaukee Bucks while earning $8 million dollars a year. He still doesn’t score a lot of points, but he isn’t worried about that.
P.J. Tucker is focused on his strengths.
In our careers, too often we dwell on the things we wish we were able to do, while not acknowledging all the things at which we excel. By focusing on your weaknesses, not only do you not give yourself a chance to succeed, but you also lose track of your strengths. I challenge you today to write down all of your strengths and how they can help you succeed in your career. You may not be able to make $8 million a year like P.J. Tucker, but you can reach your goals.
This week’s tool and video are designed to help you recognize your strengths. Fill out the tool and have your team do the same, then have a group conversation about everyone’s strengths and how they complement each other.
I promise you, that by understanding what your strengths are, you will be ready to utilize those strengths to build your career. No one has ever been penalized for doing a few things too well.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.