What Stephen Curry Can Teach Leaders About Change
“Stephen Curry was still shooting from his waist in high school, but his father knew he needed to remake his shot to keep up with bigger and better players. So he took a summer off from his usual basketball activities and focused on one tweak: changing his release point.”
Every leader gets stuck. At some point, we all hit the proverbial wall, and feel our progress has ended. This is when we consider quitting jobs, moving to a new city, or escaping the frustration through absenteeism, or if possible early retirement. There is another and better possibility than quitting, moving, or escaping. That possibility is Change.
Stephen Curry, the player about whom Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal says, “To watch Stephen Curry play basketball is to witness a shooter unlike any the NBA has ever seen,” can teach us how to break out of our stuckness.
Cohen describes Curry’s shooting ascent as having come about in an “unconventional way.” “The NBA was completely out of the question,” and “he wasn’t expected to play much in college,” writes Cohen.
Stephen Curry’s father Dell said, “On every team he ever played on, he was the smallest guy, so he had to find ways to get around that,” because “Curry was still shooting from his waist in high school.”
At that point, Curry “took a summer off from his usual basketball activities and focused on one tweak: changing his release point.”
On the surface we may be talking about basketball, but if we look deeper, there are important spiritual lessons for life and leadership.
Stephen Curry would not be the player he is today if he had not stopped his usual activities to focus on one tweak. How many of us are afraid to slow down, let alone stop our usual activity, so we can focus on the one thing that will change everything?
What Stephen Curry teaches us about change is we must first Reset, second Refocus, and third Rebuild. This process is essential for getting unstuck. Particularly important is how this applies to leaders. While leaders are not necessarily the most important person in an organization, they do create a culture. If the leader gets and remains stuck, then he or she will create a change-resistant culture and everyone else is likely to become stuck.
Let’s see how we can Reset, Refocus, and Rebuild to put both ourselves and the teams we lead on a course for change, where we can all get unstuck from the frustrating stickiness of life.
7 The Holy Spirit says, “Listen to his voice today. 8 If you hear it, don’t be stubborn. You were stubborn when you opposed me. You did that when you were put to the test in the desert. 9 There your people of long ago put me to the test. For 40 years they saw what I did.
Hebrews 3:7–9 (NIrV)
The first step in this remaking or tweaking process is to admit what we are currently doing isn’t working. Stephen Curry admitted his shot couldn’t take him to the next level, and we need to identify and admit what is preventing us from going to the next level. We can figure this out by asking 3 questions:
- What would it mean for you to reach the next level spiritually?
- In what ways have you been stubbornly resisting moving to this level?
- How would your life be better if you were living at this next level?
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered. “You are worried and upset about many things. 42 But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better. And it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41–42 (NIrV)
Now that we have admitted what we are currently doing is not working, it is time to identify the one tweak we can make that would change everything.
Martha was stuck just like you and me. Jesus told her there was really only one thing needed for her to break free and break through. One tweak. We are no different.
I realize I am afraid to change my usual activity and focus. My fear rises because I worry I will choose the wrong focus – What if I tweak the wrong thing?
Interestingly, I felt this same way in high school where I played on the basketball team. I was afraid to take a summer and focus on strengthening my weak dribbling hand. What I later realized is that if I had done this, it would have changed my confidence on the court under pressure, and this would have changed everything.
Most of us know we need to refocus our lives to move to the next level, but we are afraid. We are afraid to examine and admit the one weakness holding us back. We are afraid to seek honest input from others to discover the one tweak we need to make that would change everything.
I understand and share your fear, but what we should all fear is the regret we will carry with us if we refuse to refocus. Here are four questions that can help us overcome our fear, refocus, and start tweaking to get to the next level:
- What one change could I make in my life that has the potential to change all other aspects of my life?
- What one tweak could I make to make this change become a reality?
- What fears are stopping me from refocusing and tackling this change?
- How could I rely on God to overcome these fears and get started on my tweak that will change everything?
1People go about making their plans, but the Eternal has the final word. 2 Even when you think you have good intentions, He knows your real motives. 3 Whatever you do, do it as service to Him, and He will guarantee your success.
Proverbs 16:1-3The Voice (VOICE)
Stephen Curry knows his “why,” which is his motive for becoming a basketball player, and based on reporting there is likely to be a spiritual component to this decision.
What we need to ask ourselves as leaders is, “Do we know our ‘why’ and is this motive pleasing to God? Does our reason for going to the next level serve God and others not merely ourselves?”
When we get our motive right, we secure God’s guarantee of success, which will give us the confidence to do the hard work of rebuilding our lives by tweaking that “one thing.”