Unleashing Your Inner J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith is a below-average NBA player by Player Efficiency Rating. He’s a former Knick who has become a key player for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they attempt to overcome an injury to Kevin Love to earn their first NBA championship. He also has an EWA (Estimated Wins Added) of 3.1.

Timofey Mozgov is an above-average NBA player by Player Efficiency Rating. He’s a former Knick who has become a key player for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they attempt to overcome an injury to Kevin Love to earn their first NBA championship. His EWA is 6.1.

The move that was most-covered in the basketball media was the pickup of Smith (and Iman Shumpert, EWA 0.8). Players, especially publicly, are not judged by their actual value – they’re judged by the few moments people remember from them. Unfortunately for Mozgov, this was his introduction to the public:

Smith, however, has a penchant for taking a lot of shots, some of which happen to land, knowing that people will only remember the big ones he hits.

Unfortunately for most of us, most professions don’t have general managers and scouts poring over our production and discovering how well we can fit in. It’s up to us to sell ourselves and make people believe we’d be able to produce those possessions that result in wins for their team. So how do we make ourselves J.R. Smith in the interview process while realizing we’re Mozgov – a consistent producer, good teammate, and guy who doesn’t seem to want his own personal limelight?

In honor of Smith, I’m going to throw up three points.

  1. Recognize that people don’t promote the stuff that didn’t work

It’s tough out there for designers, writers, and social media strategists. You can do fantastic work on your own, but when you’re keeping up with industry news, you’re constantly seeing the “10 best” campaigns, designs, or articles. We’re forever comparing ourselves to the best work that the best have produced over their careers. If you’re hyper-aware of yourself and you’re doing the equivalent of playing in a league with LeBron James, it feels impossible to say that you’re one of the best when you’re seeing what he can do.

Even James went to Hakeem Olajuwon for post play tips. Work on getting what you can translate from these lists and try not to focus on how great those products were – that way madness lies.

  1. Focus on your successes and don’t mitigate them

Since your prospective employers can’t see all your shots, get into your Smith zone and remember all the ones you’ve made when you’re talking to them. Smith doesn’t let his poor shooting percentage deter him from shooting. The next one is going in. Obviously, as an actual employee, you’ll strive for efficiency, but the interview process doesn’t value the cautious. No one asks about the potential mistakes you’ve avoided.

  1. Remain honest

Smith doesn’t lie about who he is on the basketball court. He couldn’t if he wanted to, given that every game is covered by dozens of journalists and broadcast on TV. He is who he is, and that’s not going to change. People still want him anyway, in part because he does make some of those plays that matter. Some places aren’t going to accept you; that’s fine. Just keep working on your game and realize that eventually, you’re going to end up somewhere that has a vision for how you can fit in and produce for them, and that’s better than going somewhere that your minutes are limited until you’re not able to be effective.

Businesses want efficient producers who do their job and do it well while fitting in with the team they have, but the interview process tends to reward those who have an almost undeserved amount of confidence. Unleash your inner J.R. Smith and get past that self-doubt.

Just don’t let go of that productive, efficient Mozgov when you get hired.

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