My Best Mistake: Turning Naysayers To Yeasayers

Have you ever suffered a public and painful castigation for a decision you made where you were the butt of criticism from every sector, including media, competition, and even sometimes your own employees – not to mention an entire rabid fan community furious by your decision?

Well, you ain’t lived until that’s happened to you! And if you’re any good at your trade, you will. It’s what you do with that noise that makes all the difference.

In 2012 our NBA basketball team, the Golden State Warriors, had to make a number of roster moves in order to change the direction of the team. We had found ourselves at the bottom of the NBA performance grid and were beginning to think of how we could create a winning trajectory for the next season. Basketball operations decided that in order execute certain moves and trades, we had to release our then 12 man on the bench, Jeremy Lin. He was a point guard and we already had several of them, including Steph Curry, a superstar.

Lin was extremely popular with the Asian community in the San Francisco Bay Area, not an unimportant sector of our audience. Lin’s performance had been less than stellar and, with his short stints on the floor, he seemed to lose the ball more than score so we thought no other team would pick him up. Because of the fans’ fascination with him and the fact that several folks at our basketball operations felt he had promise, we thought we’d be able to circle back and re-sign him at a later time. The Houston Rockets who had some injuries, decided to give him a go. It didn’t go too well and two weeks later they released him. The New York Knicks, riddled by injuries, decided they needed someone in the latter part of their season to serve them for a few minutes off the bench. What was born of that move was Linsanity. He blossomed, became a fan favorite, and a Sports Illustrated cover.

Many folks criticized the Warriors management for this move. We were projected to finish in the lower quarter of all the NBA teams. Lin, at the end of the year, on his own choice moved on to a very, very lucrative contract back to Houston where he’s performed well enough to be a significant contributor to that team this year.

The dialog and the chagrin from the naysayers disappeared when our team this year, having engineered these changes, secured its first all star selection in 17 years and made the playoffs for only the second time in over 20 years, with the last 30 games being total sellouts.

What all this proves is that you shouldn’t worry about the naysayers.

Follow your convictions and don’t be driven off course by idle gossip and media speculation. They are peripheral opponents. Hits and wins turn naysayers into yeasayers.

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