Lebron James' Career Lesson's for Us All

Lebron James is a talented basketball player and savvy business man. Check out how much he made on the Apple-Beats by Dre deal.

What we may not realize are the hidden career lessons for us average folk in Lebron’s career decisions.  Today, news broke that the superstar is opting out of his contract with the Miami Heat. “How does Lebron James opting out of a $20 million contract to become a free agent and possibly make more money, have anything to do with me” you ask?

Strip away the household, basketball superstar name and the money and focus on the professional focus behind the decision making. Lebron is making decisions that many of us struggle with each and every day.  What makes you loyal to your company or your position? What will it take for you to leave or at least begin looking for other opportunities? How long should you stay in one position or with one company?

These are important questions. In 2010, Lebron left the Cleveland Cavaliers in order to join a team better positioned for championship (at least that is the widely accepted rationale).  Apply this logic to the average employee: a person who is tasked with producing tremendous outcomes but feels that they are understaffed or underfunded, which directly impacts the possibility of being successful.  Should the person leave?

What if the management continuously promises more, better trained resources but the promise goes unrealized year after year?  Under the employee’s leadership, the department has seen several, very public failures. Should the person leave?

There is nothing black or white about these scenarios.   “Should I stay or should I go” decisions are informed by professional and personal goals and sometimes dreams established early on in our lives.  When Lebron left Cleveland, some speculated that he was leaving $40 million on the table by deciding to be a free agent.  The decision wasn’t guided by the money.  He wanted a ring.

What I have to come to realize during my own career progression is that I am not guided by the money either. I care about the responsibility involved in a position.  If I were faced with the decision of whether or not to become a free agent or re-sign with my current employer, the factors that would weigh heavily for me are the amount of responsibility I have and my perceived value to the organization.  If one or both of those are low, I become a free agent.

Lebron seems to be sending past and future teams he is involved with the same message: “Set me up for success.” Invest in me and the team or I am out of here.”

Many of us have the same demands of our employers, but we don’t follow through with the big storm out when we are let down because we have to think about things like benefits and stability.

Do you think that we discount our own power by not embracing the “free agent” mentality?  What situation would push you to look for other opportunities?

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