While traveling back to Tallahassee from Los Angeles recently, I noticed that Steve Nash was on my flight (or I was on his flight). If you don’t know who Steve Nash is, he’s a recently retired professional basketball player who had a nineteen year career, was an 8 time All-Star and 2 time MVP (basically the agreed upon best player from a single season). You are now probably imagining that he must be a man of enormous stature to be capable of having achieved so much success in a game played by giants. Steve Nash however, is only 6’2” and weighs about 180lbs; just five inches taller than the average North American male and almost exactly the average weight. He walked through the terminal camouflaged by his size, lacking the oversized features of most professional athletes that elicit stares and questions like, “Who is that?” Nash was free to walk among us all without the tidal wave of autograph and picture seekers that would submerge any other recent MVP. Full disclosure, I did wave to Nash as I walked by an area where he was sitting and he very politely waved back. Score.
Known for his commitment to a healthy diet (no sugar) and exercise, he spent long periods of time standing in the aisle next to his seat, stretching while he read. I was envious of that because at 6’6” standing straight in a plane for me is generally a non-starter. Mostly though, I could not get over his size, he was so normal. I’ve stood next to Yao Ming and at 7’6” he towered over me. I remember thinking how impossible it would be to try to shoot a basketball over him, and Nash did that well for 19 years, versus nearly every player who defended him.
I am writing about this experience because seeing Nash motivated me. It reinforced my belief that no matter what field you’re in, there is competition everywhere and that competition can be beat. How are you doing your job better than the industry average? How do you overcome your deficiencies; in technology, opportunity, education, organization, service? We all have a choice, be average or overcome average. As Nash proved, just because you aren’t born with the prototypical traits of a legend doesn’t mean you can’t perform like one.