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What Job Seekers Can Learn from LeBron

June 13, 2011

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Alex Braun, Eye of the Intern editorBy Alex Braun

The NBA Finals are over, and justice has been restored to the universe.

Though he committed no actual crime, LeBron James has become one of the most reviled figures in sports for dumping his hometown team on national TV and declaring a new basketball dynasty before he’d even practiced with new star teammates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Last July, fresh off his famous Decision, he predicted “Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” — presumably at least eight — championships for his new team.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat

Until LeBron respects the total effort it takes to win a championship, the many things he has done right won't matter. (Photo: Keith Allison)

LeBron’s hubris, coupled with his colossal ability, made him the perfect villain this postseason. And when the less talented but relentless Dallas Mavericks closed out his Heat on their own court Sunday night to claim the title in six games, there might have been more excitement about one man’s loss than an entire franchise’s first win.

Now, we get to tell the King where he went wrong.

To be fair, James is a bigger winner than 99 percent of us. And though he may have been born with uncommon attributes like height and massive hands, it takes an enormous amount of training and practice to remain the most explosive and athletic player of his size the NBA has ever seen.

Whatever the media or LeBron himself may have said, his past successes cannot have come “easy” — they just weren’t as hard as they are for less gifted players. But champions, regardless of skill, don’t just work “very hard.” They work like the fate of the world depends on it. And the only way to do that is to have a respect for the task that, quite frankly, LeBron James does not currently seem to possess.

Veterans know that when the stakes are highest, professional sports become more than just games. They become absolute dogfights, exhausting both mentally and physically. The ability to persevere and concentrate in the midst of outside pressure is so critical in those situations. And by showing his irreverence for what it takes to be a champion, James needlessly added to that pressure.

I think too many talented young people have held themselves back by adopting a similar attitude.  Just recently, one of our users asked why people he knew who never went to college were having more success than he was. My response was that even if you’ve put in the money and some hard work, you’re not assured of taking the next step.

If you’re performing to your potential, everything you do should be a hard-fought challenge — even if you’re making it look easy.

People who succeed consistently don’t waste time thinking about what their past accomplishments should have earned them. If two doors slam, they claw their way to the third. When they fail, they take the lesson and become better.

Some factors will always be out of your control. That’s life. Your job is to make sure to make prudent choices and put your maximum effort into everything you can control. LeBron’s brash words made this series LeBron against the Forces of Good, when it didn’t have to be. It’s hard enough to win a championship when the world is on your side.

If you’re performing to your potential, everything you do should be a hard-fought challenge — even if you’re making it look easy.

That’s why the unchosen ones are celebrating in the streets of Dallas. That’s why LeBron’s dynasty is once again delayed.