If Jeremy Lin could teach you how to retire early, would you listen? I’m not typically prone to jumping on bandwagons, but recently emerging basketball phenom can teach us a few things about preparing for our financial futures.
Work with what you have, and make the best of it.
Jeremy Lin wasn’t drafted out of college, and even after signing a contract ended up playing in the D-League (farm league for b-ball). Despite his strong performance in the D-League he was repeatedly sent back. Many transfers and waivers later, he ended up in the D-League once again, playing not for the New York Knicks but for their D team the Erie Bayhawks. Days before being let go again, the First Tawainese American NBA player was still staying on his brother’s couch. He showed up once again and finally got the chance to really change his future. Things fell in to place but never would have if he had made excuses to not make the best of his situation.
Although at times he was cited for demonstrating self-doubt (even humility can be disguised for that in the NBA) he never let it stop him from going after his goals.
Too often I hear people say things like, “I don’t have enough money to get started with financial planning” or “I don’t even know what I need to do to save for retirement”…”I feel like the odds are stacked against me.” Well, guess what? These excuses will get you nowhere, and you’ll be using them again in ten years when the odds really are more stacked against you. No matter how behind or how unprepared you are, it won’t likely improve if you just shrug it off as hopeless. And if things are going just OK, why not develop a financial plan to really work towards reaching your goals sooner?
Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly.
After Harvard, following the NBA tryouts, Lin acknowledged that the workouts were “one on one or two on two or three on three, and that’s not where I excel. I’ve never played basketball like that.” Lin realized that his style of play wasn’t suited to a two man team and that he would have to put in the hard time playing on as many teams as it took to prove himself as a valuable asset and get to the right place in his career.
Maybe you have no interest in investments, maybe you don’t think you could ever figure out a savings plan, or maybe you are just more interested in spending your time working on something else. There is nothing wrong with admitting what you aren’t great at (or don’t want to deal with) and focusing on the financial areas you may excel in. Maybe you’re really good at finding ways to bring in extra income through hobbies or side projects. Maybe there is somewhere at work that you can put on a full court press and bring home more money every year. It may not be traditional financial planning, but if you can leave that to someone else and do something else that increases your personal bottom line, you’re shooting for a three – which brings us to one final observation.
Discover the Lin’s in Your Life, and Look For New Lin’s if Needed.
Just as recognizing your own strengths and working on them can improve your financial planning outlook, so can identifying the strengths of others in your life and make sure you have a good team working for you. It was actually Carmelo Anthony who recognized Lin wasn’t being used to his potential and suggested he get a little bit more prime time on the court. While it took a little bit of luck, recognizing an underutilized player has changed the future of the Knicks’ organization.
Maybe you own a business and have employees who aren’t living up to their potential, or maybe you’re not sure. It’s time to find out, and put them where they need to be to produce the greatest outcome. Maybe you are having your tax accountant or an insurance agent handle your retirement and make your investments, something best delegated to someone who specializes in that. Maybe you’re working hard at taking care of certain work or financial tasks that are not your strong suit, when your time would best be spent elsewhere while someone specialized to that task rocks it.
However good or bad your financial circumstances, make the determination not to be limited by your by them, focus on your strengths, and delegate other tasks to the right team members in your life. Jeremy Lin and the Knicks did, and it finally paid off.