by Joel Burgess

Basketball took up a major part of a previous chapter of my life. I learned a lot from the game, especially about people, and my observations have served me well in the business world.

In particular I was intrigued by combinations of desire and skill in the players I met and how those combinations played out on the court. I like to categorize the players I met into four groups:

High Desire/High Skill : A great combination to have, but let’s face it-not many players get to be the best of the best.

Low Desire /High Skill : This is what I call the upside-down player. They underachieve no matter how great they are.

High Desire/Low Skill : I love these guys. These are the guys who are close to my heart because they truly understand the components of success and self improvement.

Low Desire/Low Skill : Many times these fellas have conditioned themselves to get kicked off the team in a hurry, usually in dramatic fashion.

After my collegiate career, I made an attempt to turn pro in an Australian League. I’ll spare the dirty details, but I never made it Down-Under.

I have no regrets about my motivation and the efforts I put forth throughout my 24-year career. Basketball had always been a love affair for me; however, my performance could never quite match my desire. I had what you might call a skills shortage-I was undersized, too slow, with an average vertical, marginal outside shooting, yada, yada.

So what’s the connection to business?

Whether you’re on a basketball court or in an office, performance matters! Make no bones about it, a positive attitude and motivation may get you a long way, but it alone rarely, if ever, will get you “where you want to be”–you also need a proportional level of skill to the task and the competition at hand.

In a world of driven individuals, what distinguishes you from the competition is performance (track record), skills (tangible assets), and continued potential (the ability to successfully master more skills).

So what’s my point?

If your organization is lucky enough to land the high-desire/high-skill individual, great–but be sure to look for the individual with an eagerness to learn, a willingness to play team ball, and the capacity to continually improve achievements.