I had a cool breakfast with an NBA scout a while back. Needless to say, it was incredibly insightful and, at minimum, interesting.

He had plenty of helpful things to say. And I could quickly see how they relate to our role as leaders in both secular and church realms. I’m sure you’d have been equally perceptive and intrigued. 

Here are four things I wish an NBA scout would have told me when I was 22 and just starting in vocational ministry (not quite the NBA).

1) Talent gets you mentioned, preparation gets you paid. There are junior high ballers on YouTube who can dunk and break the backboard. #Mentioned. 
But with only 400’ish NBA players, something has to separate them. #Preparation. How do you prepare off the court? How do you stay healthy physically and mentally? This scout counted the behind-the-scenes, off-the-court preparation as paramount to his picks, not talent. How many talented, top draft pick, 1-year NFL players are in the spring developmental league now? 

2) Don’t strive to be an all-star, commit to building the team. Then let the team build all-stars. You don’t set out to draft all-stars. You draft and build a team. Don’t forget that the Patriot’s dynasty was built in the 6th round with the 199th pick who only got to play when a superstar got hurt. 
Sure, there are Lebron’s out there and you should draft them. But there aren’t 400 of them. And as Cleveland, The Heat, and The Lakers (among others) have proven, a court full of “guaranteed” all-stars evidently isn’t enough. You need a team. Ask the Robinson/Duncan Spurs. And don’t forget that even Kobe was drafted 13th (not first) and immediately traded (well done, Charlotte). 

3) Define your lane … then focus. Just like talent, everyone can see deficiencies. Good NBA scouts don’t waste time arguing about how that player can’t shoot like Steph or rebound like Rodman. They ask “yes, but what CAN he do?” 
He’s fat, slow, goofy, can’t shoot free throws, and air-balls 3’s. But what CAN Shaq do? Own an entire end of the court, that’s what.
What can you do? What can that volunteer do? What can that staff member do? Get them focused on their game.

4) Remember that everyone is “not there yet.” Life’s a process, not a project. An NBA scout can’t see the future. They can only see healthy, tasty ingredients they know to be good if cooked properly by a master chef. 
Be an expert on those ingredients. 
And remember that Jordan was just Michael before he was Jordan. 

That was of my favorite meetings ever. 
A ninja blessing I didn’t see coming until about 36 hours before that meeting. And I have pages of notes from that talk.