Sunday, March 21, 2021

Work-life balance – The Melo example


[Magic Johnson*]

I have always read the “Sports” section first, whether of the morning newspaper of my youth or the websiteד of these years. I really enjoy seeing my favorite teams win, which they unfortunately only do occasionally, but I am not overly upset if they lose because sport is only a game. This week, an article posted in Yahoo Sports discussed LaMelo Ball, the rookie guard for the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA, for those not in the know, like me [link]. The gist of the article is that he is having a fantastic season, is incredibly talented and looks like he is having the time of his life playing basketball. Furthermore, he is as successful and happy as he is specifically because he treats basketball, i.e., his career and livelihood, as a sport only. In other words, he strives to be successful and make lots of money but knows that the real life is elsewhere, quite a bit of wisdom for someone only 19 years old. His successful approach is also relevant to non-NBA basketball players and older folk in terms of commitment, attitude and perspective.

It is clear that there is a strong correlation between success and effort. The more time and effort you invest in your profession, the more skillful and profitable you will become. As I heard in a recent webinar by Corinne McKay, she set a specific financial goal, a rather high one at that, and then sought and found the manner to attain it. To stand above the rest, it is necessary to consider a strategy and then apply it with discipline. In other words, to be a professional, you have to act like a professional, whether you are an NBA star and a freelancer. Commitment is a key.

The “secret sauce” of success is enthusiasm. People are instinctively attracted by positive energy, a factor much easier to identify than skill. Professionals that broadcast the image that they enjoy their work are simply more successful in engaging customers and colleagues, creating a form of synergy. By contrast, unless due to inertia or forced by a lack of choice, we avoid people that hate their job. Therefore, it is vital in invest your person in your job to succeed.

Yet, even our careers, our livelihoods, are essentially a game. Most people want to succeed, be promoted and make more money. Yet, regardless of their achievements in those areas, happiness is fundamentally derived from internal tranquility, friends and family. In other words, the correlation between income and happiness is fundamentally low, removing the outliers such as homelessness and lack of food. How many people found themselves renewed and happier as a result of the Corona crisis, which upturned the professional paths of countless people? Ideally, work is a serious game but only a game.

I admired the skill and dedication of Kobe Bryant whose drive to be the best was unchallenged but believe that his approach is not practical, relevant or even healthy for the vast majority of people. By contrast, Magic Johnson (of my time) and LaMelo Ball were and are must- sees, as the article states, not only because of their skill but also because of their approach. It is desirable and possible for any person, great or small, to invest in and enjoy their work and still lead a balanced life by remembering that, as the Israeli singer Dafna Dekel sang in the 1992 Eurovision contest, זה רק ספורט [ze rak sport], it is only sport.

* Help the blind access the Internet by inserting picture captions.

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