Be "Around" the Ball


Be “Around” the Ball
I fell in love with the game of basketball at a very young age going to East Carter High School Raiders games with my dad and grandfather.  By the time I was in high school, I had developed an absolute passion for the game and everything that came along with it…especially leadership.
I was a point guard…an extension of the coach on the floor.  So I spent a great deal of time talking to, listening to, and learning from coaches Charles Baker, Hager Easterling, and Jack Calhoun Jr.  I spent even more time watching basketball with my dad, listening, learning, and yes…talking his ear off in the living room each night watching games on tv.
Fourteen years later, lessons I learned on the basketball court still guide me today.  I could write an entire book on these lessons (not a bad idea), but this week I felt compelled to share one concept in particular…
Be “Around” the Ball
It’s one thing to be “on the ball”, but are you always “around the ball”?
Growing up, I would often watch games with my coaches and my dad.  When I would comment on a nice play or player, coach Baker would say, “…yep, Tay, he’s always around the ball…that’s a sign of a great player.”
What did he mean by this?
Great players always seek out ways to be involved in every play.  Sometimes they take the shot, other times they make a great pass to set-up a teammate for an easy score, and sometimes they make a crucial defensive play which turns the tide of the game.  Common denominator…they’re always “around the ball”, making an impact.
The same concept can be applied to our daily routines at work…
You’re all buttoned up.  Your desk is tidy.  Your To-Do list is quite the masterpiece with that yellow highlighter mark drawn through each outstanding item…but where’s the ball?  What are the most important initiatives in your company, school, team, or organization?  Are you involved?  Are you making an impact?  Are you satisfied merely having all of your own projects wrapped up?  Or do you want to do more and make an IMPACT on the overall team or organization’s results?  If you want to be a game changer…if you really want to make an impact…once your own personal To-Do’s are complete, go OneMoreStep, and seek out your organization’s most pressing projects or most important initiatives.   Not in your job description, but you know you can add value?  Get in there…jump right in, and make your magic.
Rick Pitino says about point guards, “…mediocre guards play along the sidelines, but great guards play in the middle of the court.”  Next time you watch a basketball game.  Watch.  The action, the risk, and the potential game-changing plays all happen in the middle of the floor.  Along the sidelines, it’s easier, less of a risk, and safe.  Good luck making any ‘real’ magic hugging the sideline.
Get in the middle of the floor.  When you think the “big” project or initiative coming down from corporate, your owners, or the central office is over your head and “not your job”…go OneMoreStep.  Seek out ways to get in the mix, and make an IMPACT.  Do that a few times in the near future; become known and recognized as someone that is always “around the ball” and allow me to be the first to congratulate you, in advance, on your next promotion.
Be “around the ball” as much as possible…If you know you can contribute, why not ask to be involved…ask to take that last second shot…want the ball.  That could very well be the OneMoreStep your team, school, or company needs to be successful.
OneMoreStep story for the road…
One of our Vice Presidents at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is tasked with overseeing day-to-day operations of one department in the casino.  However, on any given day of the week, you may find him in a meeting with our marketing or accounting teams, making decisions that impact Guest experience at the front desk, answering questions for Guests or employees on the casino floor, and/or assisting with the planning and execution of a special event.  If something important is happening, if something needs to be approved, or if someone needs assistance…he is usually there…always “around the ball.”

Somewhere in HR, they have a job description for his role; but he goes to work everyday to make an impact. Period.  You’ll never hear the words, “that’s not my job” come out of his mouth, nor would he ever think it.  He’s concerned with the big picture; the team; the company.  That’s leadership. That’s going OneMoreStep.  The cool part…we’re all following his lead.  The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is making a real impact on her Guests and Co-Stars (employees) because of it.

Have a great day.


University of Kentucky Wildcat fans had the good fortune of watching John Wall last season; he was always “around the ball”
…for hoops fans, I figured why not.  ‘Tis the season…Enjoy.
Go Cats


  • February 22, 2011

    Great post. "Around the ball" versus "on the ball" is a subtle but hugely important difference. Many who aspire to lead want the glory that comes from being on the ball but aren't willing to invest the time and effort to be around it.

  • February 22, 2011

    Excellent article. I love the tie-in between leadership on the court and in the business setting. Being "Around the Ball" provides us with a good picture of the mindset of the leader; their all-encompassing goal is to add value to the team. Very well-written and well-stated, Taylor. And, by the way, I agree with you with regards to your writing an entire book on this topic. Not only is it "not a bad idea"…it's a GREAT idea! I can't wait to read it. Thank you again for sharing your wisdom with us.

  • February 22, 2011

    Tay this is your best post yet! How like you to use your years of basketball experience to demonstrate the responsibilities of leadership. I totally agree with your other commented- you need to write that book!

  • February 25, 2011

    I just want to simply say how proud of you I am! You've always had a gift of inspiring those around you and this is a perfect way for everyone to know what I've known for 10 yrs! You're amazing my wonderful friend…Ellen

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