Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Perform First, Brag Later

Napoleon dramatized the idea that any soldier in his army could rise to the top with the line: "Every French solider carries in his pack the baton of a Marshal." A century and a half later, David Ogilvy would quote that line and then admonish young careerists, "Yes, but it's best not to let it stick out." It's advice that LeBron James should have taken to heart.

Almost since he made the leap from high school to the National Basketball Association, this amazingly talented young man has shared his view of himself. He's called himself, "The Chosen One" and compared himself to Michael Jordan. He even went so far as to change his Cavalier jersey number to Michael's number 23 to "honor Jordan," suggesting that after he had worn the number, every team should retire it.

Last year, when he seemed to disappear in the playoffs, he blamed his teammates. Then, LeBron, in a televised special, announced that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to go to the Miami Heat where he would play with good friends, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Domination was promised.

The three were presented to Miami fans like rock stars, raised on a forklift during a light show. LeBron raised the possibility of championships, not just one, but eight, more than the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. LeBron speculated that the Heat might set a record for games won in the regular season.

None of it has happened so far. The team struggled through the better part of the season. In the playoffs LeBron showed that he could still disappear in big games. The Heat lost the NBA championship to the Dallas Mavericks. And a petulant James greeted the media afterward, reminding fans who don't like him that he's a star and they're not, and suggesting that God had decided it wasn't James' time to win a championship.

I don't know if LeBron will use this situation for good or for evil. He could certainly learn from it. What I do know is that all the bragging and the posturing have made him look like an arrogant jerk with an inflated idea of his own ability.

Dizzy Dean once said that, "If you can do it, son, it ain't bragging." We should change that for LeBron to "Until you do it, son, it's just BS."

Boss's Bottom Line

Bragging always generates resentment, even if it's based on performance. It's a bad idea.

Thanks to Wally Bock's Three Star Leadership Blog


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