A few weeks ago I was able to take my boys to their first NBA game down in Memphis (we live in St. Louis). We pulled them from school for the day and drove 4 hours to Tennessee with a friend and his daughter. We turned the day into a learning and teaching experience for all the kids, making stops at the Lorraine Hotel and the Civil Rights Museum. We all learned some great lessons at the museum and from the video stands that line the Lorraine Hotel grounds. We also learned a valuable lesson while waiting for players for the Milwaukee Bucks at their hotel.
One of my former players has become the General Manager for the Milwaukee Bucks so we were able to get free tickets from him and luckily he was able to spend an hour with us prior to the game. I recruited Jon (GM) when he was 18 years old and he wound up playing for me for 4 years in college. We sat for an hour and reminisced about his college days and we talked at length about how the business of the NBA works. Jon made a comment that really caught my attention, I stopped him mid-sentence and brought my two boys over to hear exactly what he had just said.
“Where is Giannis (Milwaukee’s best player and NBA All-Star)?” I asked. Jon responded – “Giannis is a first bus guy”. In the NBA, three buses leave the hotel for the arena every hour on the hour. Some players in the NBA are first bus players, others are on the third bus. Jon mentioned, “We have to get as many first bus guys that we can.”
I stopped Jon and looked at my boys and said do you understand what he just said. “Giannis is a first bus guy, he is already at the arena. He is out early on the court working to get better at his game. He is there 3 hours before any one else. He also happens to be their best player. He is also an NBA All-Star. Third bus players are essentially getting to the arena when the game starts.”
Now I think of my career and the decisions I have made in an attempt to become an All-Star. In some ways I am a first bus guy, and in many ways I am still on the hotel couch waiting for the third bus. If we take a snapshot of our companies and teams – we know who the first bus people are, the people that are always early and staying late, grinding it out for the company, clients, and professional advancement – working to be an All-Star. We know the third bus players too – and I am sure at some point the GM rolls his eyes and says “we need more first bus guys.”
I need to have a first bus mindset in all that I do, not just in my work. In the areas where I am a third bus guy, I need to review the schedule and make some changes to get on that first bus. I would encourage us all to take inventory of our professional lives and honestly ask ourselves – which bus do I get on?