The Epitome of Perseverance
We will face rejection, we will be tested, we will be pushed to the point of near surrender.
Dozens of professional basketball players have made their NBA debuts in recent weeks as Covid infections have forced teams to find short-term replacements to fill their rosters.
But the journey of one player in particular has some crucial leadership lessons for us.
At 32, recent Oklahoma City Thunder signee Scotty Hopson is far older and more traveled than typical roster additions these days. Over his 12-year career, he has played for 17 different teams in eight countries, four continents.
This is not Hopson’s first NBA experience. In 2014, he played seven total minutes over two games before being let go by Cleveland.
He signed a 10-day contract with Dallas in 2018, played in one game and was sent back to the G-League (the NBA’s development league).
In 10 years out of college, he had played in three total NBA games, stepping on the floor for a combined 15 minutes.
But last week, he was called back to the NBA for the first time in three years — playing 18 minutes in a game for Oklahoma City and scoring four points.
Hopson, like so many of us as leaders, has endured painful rejection. He’s battled disappointment and failure — and has likely been wronged at one point or another.
How easy would it have been for him to sound off to reporters or gone on a Twitter rant about how unfair it all was? Who really could’ve faulted him if he decided to give up?
But he never did any of this — instead exhibiting maturity, grit and extreme perseverance. His resolve despite the supreme adversity has likely extended his playing career and afforded him some opportunities over other talented players.
As leaders, we must understand that, at some point, we are likely to have our dreams deferred. We will face rejection, we will be tested, we will be pushed to the point of near surrender.
When this happens, our next step is the most important of all.
Do we succumb to frustration and become bitter? Or does our will to triumph take over?
As wronged or defeated as we may feel, maintaining poise and perspective during moments of tumult will distinguish us from our peers. And these attributes can keep the door open for future opportunities that might not otherwise have been possible.
The skill that has landed Hopson on an NBA roster at this point isn’t a jump shot, a vertical leap or an ability to play defense. It’s his will to compete and his refusal to stay knocked down.
Hopson isn’t bound for the All-Star game. He may not even finish the year in the NBA.
But his determination, his resolve and his ability to tactfully navigate a turbulent course are Hall-of-Fame leadership ingredients.
And they’re relevant far beyond any basketball court.