Tue. Aug 21st, 2018

Practice What You Preach

Game 1 of the NBA Finals reminds me of a scene from the movie Old School. Will Ferrell shouted at his fraternity brothers, “We can’t have anyone freak out out there, okay? We’ve got to keep our composure. We’ve come too far. There’s too much to lose. We’ve got to keep our composure.” He yelled this message while slamming a folding chair into gym lockers.

LeBron James pulled a Will Ferrell by preaching one thing and doing another — stressing the importance of a cerebral approach to basketball after punching a whiteboard with his shooting hand. 

Will Ferrell’s act in Old School was hilariously hypocritical. It was a joke in a movie. LeBron’s act was just hypocritical. You can’t sit there and emphasize the significance of having a high basketball IQ in order to beat the Warriors, while going Bruce Lee in the locker room and damaging your hand. LeBron had the nerve to make this comment about the Warriors leading up to Game 4 after hurting his hand, “In order to win, you’ve got to have talent, but you’ve got to be very cerebral, too.”

What exactly is cerebral about punching an object that leaves your hand twice its normal size? The result of the Hulk-like hissy fit included two MRIs and a significant bone contusion. Not quite the stuff of cerebral legend.

Look, I’m not one of these people who hunts for the tiniest reason to criticize LeBron. It’s a shame that conversations about an all-time great typically center on what LeBron hasn’t accomplished instead of what he has. Just because he isn’t on Michael Jordan’s level doesn’t make him Nicolas Batum. He’s an amazing talent. However, LeBron has made mistakes that legitimately deserve to be questioned. Bashing his hand while punching a whiteboard in a fit of rage ranks pretty high on the list.

Similar mistakes are made in many other occupations as well. Sports radio is a hotbed for these types of miscues. Has a boss or co-worker ever told you to do something while they actually did the exact opposite themselves? I can envision a high percentage of sports talk employees resembling bobbleheads as they emphatically nod yes. It happens far too often.

An easy way to lose the respect of a co-worker is to do the opposite of what you’re asking or demanding of them. If you tell your producer or co-host to get to the point quickly, you better not be rambling either. If you tell your co-workers to pay attention to detail, make sure you aren’t making careless mistakes yourself. And whatever you do, if you preach the importance of being cerebral, don’t injure your hand by punching a whiteboard! 

Okay, that last example might not apply to sports radio, but you get the idea — don’t just talk about it, be about it.

Your own message is devalued when you fail to execute the same tasks. The people around you won’t take your expectations seriously if you fail to get the same things accomplished. They’ll also lose respect for you. It’s like the cop that pulls you over for running a red light and then turns around and does the exact same thing. Do you respect that person? Your reaction probably isn’t, “Hey, that’s cool.” It’s more likely a mixture of Andrew Dice Clay and the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket.

I dislike the thought that the Warriors would have won a championship anyway in spite of LeBron’s karate-chopped hand. It’s true, but it’s letting LeBron off the hook way too easily. Nobody made excuses and said the New York Giants wouldn’t have won a Super Bowl when Odell Beckham Jr. punched a wall after losing to the Packers in the playoffs. We just said that it was a stupid thing to do, which it was. The same applies to Jean-Claude LeBron.

It’s also far less likely that you’ll be given the benefit of the doubt in a sports radio setting. Let’s say a rival radio station is performing much better and won’t be beaten. Can you really envision a co-worker saying, “Man, Brian sure is a hypocrite, but it’s okay because we aren’t going to beat the guys across the street anyway”? That simply won’t be the case. In most situations, being a hypocrite will cost you more than it did LeBron.

Yes, LeBron still found a way to be very productive in spite of his injury, but maybe he could’ve done more without a bashed paw. Maybe a fully healthy LeBron would’ve helped the Cavs win Game 3. Maybe LeBron would’ve taken more than three shots in the second half of a closeout game. And don’t think for a second that there aren’t some of his teammates who are looking at LeBron sideways when his cerebral comments don’t align with his silly Kung Fu action.

It’s very risky to fall short of the standard you hold others to. Whether it’s at work or in a relationship, people will turn against you if you gloss over your own mistakes while dissecting their shortcomings. It can lead to a lot of resentment. There can also be a loss of trust, admiration, and respect. That’s a triple whammy of yuck.

Think of the requests you have for others as automatically being your mission too. I realize that every expectation you have for another person won’t be applicable to yourself, but many things are. Focus on leading by example and following through on the same things you want from others. There is a much better chance that your demands will be met if you practice what you preach.

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