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It was the best of times….

May 27, 2009

And the #1 pick goes to……..Do you ever wonder why so many #1 picks (in any sport) never produce the results that are expected?   One of the biggest factors is adversity.  Your typical #1 pick played on an average to good college team in an overall satisfactory (or better) situation that allowed them to shine at that level.  What happens when they are drafted high in the first round?  They go to one of the worst teams in the league and face significant adversity, often for the first time.  The true character and resolve of a person is most evident in tough times, not in good times.  For many of these superstars, their true mettle was never tested at the college level,  and they fail to thrive in this tough new environment.  Sometimes, the anticipated success doesn’t materialize simply because their heart is never really in the game playing for a poor team and/or bad organization.  These are certainly good athletes, but they just haven’t had the proper stress testing to weed out the true superstars from the ones who can only effectively navigate in calm seas.

In business good people often find themselves in adverse situations, maybe working for a company that is having trouble meeting revenue or profit targets, or maybe just working for a boss that you can’t stand, or even in a city you don’t like.  As mentioned before, the true character of a person comes out in situations like these, and the ones who deal with adversity well, and play all out all of the time, for the team that they might not even want to be on, are the true superstars.   It often takes a rough patch like the current economic crisis to discover your most talented and loyal employees.  I would rather have a Rudy (the inspirational walk on at Notre Dame) over  a “prima donna”  #1 pick on my team every time.   You see, during challenging times, both behaviors are contagious.  Just as the extra effort and positive attitude of the hard worker will pull others up, a half-hearted “star” will certainly bring others down.  So when it’s time for those annual employee appraisals, think about how your people performed not just during the best of times, but also during the worst of times.

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