Earl Monroe played basketball for the New York Knicks in the 70’s. Monroe was not especially fast nor was he a high jumper, but he had spin moves, hesitation dribbles and fake shots that threw off his opponents. He played the game with finesse. He let the game come to him. The advice in his quote is the most helpful given to me over my career. I’m not a basketball player nor am I even a very well-informed spectator. But I understand the idea of timing and of patience when it comes to winning a game. And the applicability to business and perhaps to life in general is many fold.
- White Space: Be slow to speak. Allow others to move first and talk first when gathering information or making a decision. Take the information in before making a call. Most people have an issue with silence. Don’t be one of those people. Listen for the white space.
- Fools Rush In: Gather the facts and don’t be fast to judge. Expressing an opinion is fine but take care not to take a strong stand too early from which you can’t back down. I’ve often changed my mind about something after hearing all sides and letting the other point of view sink in.
- Collect Puzzle Pieces: Puzzle solving and basketball? I am mixing my metaphors, but there is one similarity. The game and the puzzle unfolds. At the beginning, it isn’t clear what the picture is, but soon the pieces fall into place. The right strategy becomes clear in time. Sometimes the strategy or technique used needs to change to react to incoming information. In business, be willing to change your plans with new information.
- Be Quick But Don’t Hurry: Fast action is better than no action. I’ve said that in previous posts. But thoughtful action trumps all. Move forward with a reasonable amount of knowledge, a willingness to adapt and an awareness of your surroundings.
- Believe In Your Own Ability: If you don’t understand it all to start with, believe that it will become clearer over time. Believe that you can learn what you need to learn. Don’t be afraid of ambiguity. Go forward trusting your ability to understand…eventually. You’ve done that before and you can do it again.
- If You Don’t Like the Weather, Wait An Hour: That is what they say in the Sierras. The weather changes frequently so just wait if you don’t like the status quo. That is true with bosses, the economy, policies and most situations. Be patient with the current set of circumstances and it is likely that things will shift in your direction.
- Don’t strive: Don’t struggle and fight. Don’t waste energy. This doesn’t imply that hard work isn’t important. Work diligently and keep progressing toward your goal but give yourself a break and stop the worrying and fussing. I have learned this the hard way too many times. Let the game come to you.
Earl Monroe was also a business man. After playing basketball he went on to manage entertainers, open a restaurant, license his name with an NBA candy company and start a venture capital fund. Apparently, “The Pearl” is still letting the game come to him.
Patience is the companion of wisdom. Saint Augustine