I must have sounded so naive.
There I was, 22 years old and only a couple of months into my first job, at the NBA headquarters in New York City. Russ Granik, then the league’s deputy commissioner, asked me how things were going so far.
My response? “It’s going well, Russ, but I’d actually love your advice about how I can become the general manager of an NBA team.”
He should have knocked me upside the head. Instead, Russ offered the best career advice I’ve ever received. He calmly said, “Taylor, if I were you, I would focus on doing a great job with what’s on my desk today.”
Despite Russ’s typical diplomacy, the message was clear: “Appreciate the opportunity you have. Don’t get ahead of yourself.”
I’ve been a serial get-ahead-of-myselfer since I was a kid. As a middle-schooler, I was already making college plans. After renting my first New York apartment, all I could think about was buying a place. After only one dinner with my future wife, I was already thinking of the family we might have one day (fortunately, I was right about that one). And the list goes on.
Looking back on those moments, I have learned a couple of things. Not only has getting ahead of myself caused me to occasionally lose my focus – it caused me to miss the joy in those things as well.
While I can still get “out in front of my skis,” as a friend of mine likes to say, I am quicker to remember the wise words Russ shared with me 14 years ago. Almost immediately, I regain my focus – and, more importantly, the joy that comes from knowing how blessed I am to have things on my desk at all.
I hope Russ’s words will offer the same perspective and encouragement to you that they did to me. Now, let’s get back to what’s on our desks today.