• Michael Huskey

How to handle the ups and downs of your career

January 29, 2020

10 seconds left, down 3 with the ball in Victor Oladipo’s hands. He shoots… and he scores! The crowd goes wild. In his first game back after missing an entire season, he made the shot to tie the game.

In a post-game presser, Oladipo was asked how it felt to hit that shot, and with tears in his eyes he said,

“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” Victor Oladipo

To truly understand the emotion of this moment, you have to understand Oladipo’s story.

Humble Beginnings

Oladipo had been overlooked throughout the majority of his career. He was barely recruited out of high school. After being drafted as the number 2 overall pick in the NBA, Oladipo played on 3 different teams in 3 seasons. The league consensus was out, he was a bust.

His fortunes turned around once he was traded to Indiana. He was part of a deal that sent Paul George to Oklahoma City. The word around the NBA was that the Pacers got robbed. The Pacers traded their best player for a player that so far in his career had been a bust.

The opinions of media pundits didn’t damper Oladipo’s confidence. He used this doubt as fuel. He posted career highs in points and steals and earned his way to being named an NBA All-Star. He also lead the Pacers to a Game 7 against Lebron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs.

The stage had been set. Oladipo had proved the doubters wrong and was now ready to be the player everyone expected him to be.

Happily Ever After?

After his stellar first season in Indiana, he was out to prove that this last season was not a fluke. Then on January 23, 2019, Oladipo’s career would take an unfortunate turn. While chasing down a player on defensive play, Oladipo fell to the floor. He did not get up. Oladipo had ruptured his quad. He was carted off the court, and his timetable to return was unknown. He would go on to miss the rest of the season and the first half of the next.

The Comeback

To go from the top all the way back to square one is tough for any player, especially for a player who had already proved everyone wrong once. Oladipo spent the next 367 days rehabbing from this injury. He was still part of the team. He was at most practices and on the sidelines, but his impact on the court was absent. Then on January 29, 2020, his number was called again. His first game back had its rough moments, but when the moment came to put his team on his back, he was ready.

“He’s back! Ladies and gentlemen, he is back,”

Quinn Buckner, Pacers Color Analyst, after Oladipo, hit the game-tying three-point shot.

What can we learn from this story

I am sure everyone at some point in their life has felt that they were being overlooked or underutilized at a job. Or maybe you were lucky enough to land the perfect job, but then for some reason, it was taken away.

I think Oladipo can teach us all a fitting lessons on how to handle either one of these situations.

Continued Improvement

Oladipo has always been a player looking to get better. Every off-season, Oladipo added new elements to his game. However, just because he added new skills did not mean that his coach changed the way he used him. Sometimes, his coaches would have him doing the same things he had done the year prior instead of testing out the new tricks he had learned in the off-season.

I think this type of treatment is widespread in corporate culture. A lot of times, people are solely defined by their degree. If you got this degree, this means you do and think this, and you are not capable of doing that. This kind of narrow-minded view of organizing people can become very frustrating if you are the person continually being put in a box.

But as Oladipo can attest, once you find the right coach who rewards the constant improvement, the skies are the limit. Just because the first coach or manager doesn’t see your potential and growth does not mean the next one won’t. You have to keep working at it and keep getting incrementally better because eventually, that person who does see the potential will come around.

Consistency of Character

Oladipo, throughout his career and throughout his rehab, has been an individual of consistent character. He has always been the first player off the bench, cheering for his teammates. His attitude is infectious. It is tough to watch him on the sideline and not crack a smile.

This is something easy we can all emulate in our jobs. Whenever we show up to the office or a meeting, let’s make it our mission to raise the spirits of all the individuals we are interacting with. This may seem like something small, but being the person who is always lifting other people up can have a dramatic impact on your team and how others treat you.

If you are always the person picking others up, you bet when you need a helping hand, there might be a couple of hands reaching down to help.

In closing

In a society that is quick to celebrate the victim mentality, we can all learn a thing from Oladipo. Always strive to be better and be that positive energy in every room that we walk into. You may not reap the rewards of these changes on day one, but if you keep pushing through, eventually, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

About the Author

I am a 25-year-old writer writing about topics that I am interested in and passionate about. Those topics right now are personal finance, business, and some self-help. I try to bring to my unique perspective to any article I write and hope that my perspective can provide value to my readers. If you have any comments or questions around any of my articles or if you have suggestions for future articles, feel free to email me at huskdoes@gmail.com

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