There are very few athletes that generate more controversy and hatred than LeBron James. However, many of the decisions and actions that LeBron has taken over his career align directly with what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. Here are three principles that LeBron can teach us all about entrepreneurship.
The creation of a super team is not a bad thing
If you ever read any of the ESPN message boards about LeBron James you will notice the recurring comment that states, “LeBron only went to Miami because he knew that he wasn’t good enough to win the title by himself.” If this is the case, then it would seem that LeBron made an even better decision than any of us realize. In business, it is important to build the best team possible. Few people have an issue with Google when they pull the smartest graduates from top universities or got mad when Microsoft teamed up with Facebook. It’s all about leveraging win-win situations for the betterment of your business eco-system.
There is a common myth that an individual’s achievements trump what is done with the help of others. We tend glorify situations in isolated people overcome major obstacles alone. Should we value a hypothetical championship more in which LeBron is a lone hero in Cleveland over a championship that saw him as a piece of a team with exceptional talent? When making decisions ask yourself if the degree of difficulty of a situation for an individual — or the end result — is more important to your success.
Look at the total value of your decisions instead of just the monetary value
Another often-made comment is, “I don’t understand why LeBron turned down all of that extra money from Cleveland to go to Miami.” There is a concept in business called local optima. This is when a company maximizes one small part of a system at the detriment of total system productivity. What the company usually optimizes is the part of the system that investors observe to determine its total viability. This has long term negative effects and can cause a company to implode over time, because they are tricking themselves into believing in a false sense of success from considering one part out of many.
We often look at salary as the only determining factor when making decisions about careers and use phrases like “money talks and everything else walks.” This is a very non-economical way at looking at things. Many studies have shown that the law of diminishing returns is in full effect when it comes to income. LeBron could have made more salary in Cleveland, but he would have lost the opportunity to play basketball with his close friends and live in one of the nicest cities in the country. Furthermore, LeBron gained additional access to sponsorship dollars, which offset the money that he lost in salary.