LeBron James is Further Proof that Elite Talent Is Always Welcomed Back
If you have even a passing interest in sports, you’re probably aware of the story of LeBron James. Actually, a lot of people who hate sports have probably heard about it—whether they wanted to or not.
Widely considered the best player in the NBA, he left Cleveland in 2010 to join a super-team in Miami. Cleveland fans burned LeBron jerseys in the streets, and Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert posted an infamous letter online that eviscerated ‘The King’ for his “cowardly betrayal” of the franchise and the city.
Oddly enough, none of that anger prevented LeBron James from returning to Cleveland this off season, nor did it prevent the previously furious fans and owner from welcoming him back with open arms. It’s a fact of life that if you have a talent that’s at a truly elite level, you’ll always be welcomed back no matter how ugly the situation might have been when you left.
If you want more proof, consider the famous case of Steve Jobs, who left Apple in 1985 disgrace after having been effectively pushed out by the board of directors. For all his genius as a visionary, at that point in his life Jobs was a poor businessman due to a narrow-minded, combative and stubborn attitude.
Oddly enough, none of that anger prevented Steve Jobs from returning to Apple a decade later, nor did it prevent the same company from welcoming him back with open arms. In those intervening years he had matured as a person, and improved upon his knowledge and abilities as a businessman and a leader while losing nothing of his greatness as a visionary.
There’s a pattern here, if it’s not too obvious by this point
Jobs himself gives credit to his embarrassing fall from grace as motivation to examine himself critically and generate the willpower to improve upon his weaknesses, like all great executives should do. In his second stint with Apple, he led it to unparalleled heights as a company, revolutionizing personal technology and how business is done along the way.
There’s no guarantee that LeBron James will be able to lead his team to a similar level of success, but both his and Steve Jobs’ stories should teach important lessons both to employers and the elite talents of the world.
First, the natural talent of the truly elite can never be denied, but sometimes that talent needs time or even a change of scenery to fully mature and reach its potential. Most of all, it’s worth letting that talent reach that potential even if it isn’t with you.
Second, if you’re an elite talent that feels unappreciated and stagnating in your current situation, don’t be afraid to use your talent as leverage to rectify the situation. Your elite status means you’ll always have options and tons of offers to field, and if LeBron and Steve Jobs’ situations are any indication you can always return once the situation changes for everyone.
In sum: if you’re good enough at what you do, you’ll always be welcomed back.