Career Success Advice From an NBA Hall of Famer

Kevin Eikenberry is a friend of mine.  He is one of the finest leadership coaches I know.  If you aspire to be a leader, you should subscribe to his blog, Leadership and Learning.  You can find it at

Being from Indiana, Kevin is a big basketball fan.  Last Friday, his blog post had some great career success advice from an NBA Hall of Famer.  I liked the post and asked Kevin if he would permit me to repost it here.  Being the great guy he is, Kevin said yes.  Check it out.  I know you’ll enjoy it…

In the middle of the NBA playoffs, I found a great quotation from one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He’s talking about basketball players, but he is really talking to all of us.

Read it for yourself. Read it as a leader. Read it as a parent. Read it as a citizen. Go ahead, it’s only two sentences long.

“It’s hard for young players to see the big picture. They just see three or four years down the road.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hall of Fame basketball player

Questions to Ponder

• How far ahead do I see?

• In what part of life does this quotation have the most meaning for me?

• How can I see a bigger picture?

Action Steps

1. Take time today to get out of your mental routine.

2. Think about the future – further out than you usually do – and then focus back to today, making sure that your current actions will get you to the future you desire.

3. Ask someone you trust to help you see the bigger picture of the future too. Their perspective can be useful for you. 4. If appropriate, help others see a better future – one they might not see for themselves.

My Thoughts

It seems useful to think more about the future, because that is where we are heading. Yes, we need to live in the present and choose to be happy and successful now. Yet without the perspective of the future, we won’t make the best choices or guide our present most effectively.

I can envision Jabbar saying these words later in his career; in a caring way. While he was never a coach of a team, he was a leader of his peers. In whichever life role you choose to think about his words, there comes an implied imperative to help others get the bigger picture so they will make better choices and decisions today. As a leader this makes sense, as a parent it makes sense. As an individual, thinking about this makes sense as well.

Spend a little more time thinking in the future today. Help others do the same. It will be time well spent.

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  Whilewe  work in the short term, we have to keep focused on the long term.  Tweet 11 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Create a vivid mental image of yourself as a success.  This vivid image will keep you motivated and moving forward when things get tough.”  That’s what long term thinking is all about.  If you can keep your goal in mind, you can stay focused on achieving it as you go about doing your day to day work.  I decided I wanted to be in business for myself when I was 25.  It took 13 more years for me to start my first business.  But through all of those 13 years, whether I was in graduate school, or working for a company, I always kept that vivid mental image of me as an entrepreneur in the forefront of my mind.  It paid off – mainly because I also heeded the advice in Success Tweet 13: “Your vivid mental image is a blueprint.  It is a plan for career success, but you still have to do the work to make it a reality.”

That’s the career advice I found in Kevin Eikenberry’s thoughts on a quote from Kareem Abdul Jabbar.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  And as always, thanks for taking the time to read my daily thoughts on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you check out my career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: Have you seen my membership site, My Corporate Climb?  It’s devoted to helping people just like you create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about it by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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