Take Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks new sensational point guard. Due to injuries and the poor performance of other players, he was thrust into the starting line-up and has become a star. You’d have to live under a rock to not have read about Linsanity.
Lin did well playing high school basketball in Palo Alto, Cal., but couldn’t garner any athletic scholarships from the California colleges he wanted to attend, so he walked on at Harvard. Then he was undrafted by the NBA. He was eventually signed and cut by two teams when the Knicks claimed him off waivers. The Knicks were about to let him go when they decided to give him one more chance. He had a big game, and then another big game, and then another big game, and his career has taken off.
How could someone go unnoticed for so long, and in such a visible sport like professional basketball?
When Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant was asked this question, he said: “Players playing that well don’t usually come out of nowhere, but if you can go back and take a look; his skill level was possibly there from the beginning. It probably just wasn’t noticed.”
How many people on your payroll might have undetected talents?
The answer to that question goes far beyond who might be the best bowler for the company team, or the best face to feature on the company website. No, the mother lode is the employee whose resume was great on its own but much more humble than the candidate proved to be.
Finding that talent is a challenge, but there are some steps you can take to encourage your superstars. Try these ideas:
When phone salesman Paul Potts told the judges on Britain’s Got Talent (a competition show like American Idol) that he was going to sing opera, judge Simon Cowell rolled his eyes and made a stinging remark about the contestant’s cheap suit. But Potts was used to bullies and unkind remarks. He’d heard them all his life. Something much bigger was at stake for him in that moment. He had talent, and he knew it. What he’d always lacked were the means and confidence to pursue the singing career he dreamed about. This competition was a long shot. But it was also his last desperate chance to connect with the recording industry and climb out of debt and a dismal job. And so he sang.
The Welsh tenor stunned the judges and brought the audience to tears with his performance. It was just the validation he needed to boost his confidence. Now, two CDs and two tours later, he insists he will remain the humble “everyman” he’s always been – just with better suits.
Mackay’s Moral: Hidden talents don’t have to be huge, but the results can be.
Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.
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