Many college basketball fans had heard of Murray State point guard Ja Morant. Relatively few had actually seen him play, though, since Morant plays for a mid-major team with relatively limited media coverage.
Unlike Duke, Murray State games are hardly an ESPN staple.
That all changed after Morant's triple-double (17 points, 16 assists, 11 rebounds) in Thursday's upset win over fifth-seeded Marquette in the NCAA Tournament, one of only eight triple-doubles in NCAA tournament history.
Granted, Ja is used to flying under the radar. In high school he was lightly recruited, in part because he was overshadowed by teammate Zion Williamson, the now-Duke freshman and consensus prediction for the first selection in this year's NBA draft.
But one day Murray State assistant coach James Kane attended a camp to see a player that had already signed at Murray State. He accidentally noticed Ja playing 3-on-3 on another court, recognized a level of talent others had overlooked... and called head coach Matt McMahon, who immediately drove three hours to see Ja play later that day.
This season Ja averaged 24.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 10.0 assists per game.
And then, of course, there's what happened Thursday.
And now Ja Morant widely considered to be a top-five pick in this year's NBA draft.
You Can Choose Yourself
Once you had to wait: To be accepted, to be promoted, to be selected... to somehow be "discovered."
Not anymore. Access is nearly unlimited; you can connect with almost anyone through social media. You can create your own products, start your own business, attract your own funding, build your own network...
And even if you do need to be discovered -- like high school basketball players hoping to earn college scholarships, or like great people hoping to land a great job -- if you do the work, if you keep your head down and focus on improving your skills and talent and knowledge... eventually, people will find you.
You can do almost anything you want. And you don't need to wait for someone else to discover your talents.
Only two things can hold you back. One is you, and your willingness to try.
You Can Choose to Stay the Course
The other is your willingness to stay the course. Most people give up in the face of adversity -- even if they are smarter, better connected, more talented, or better funded than you. But they won't win if they aren't around at the end.
Sometimes it makes sense to give up on ideas, projects, and even businesses -- but it never makes sense to give up on yourself.
Take Ja: Going to a mid-major college might have been seen as the kiss of death for an NBA career: Gaining significantly less exposure, playing against relatively weaker competition...
But none of that bothered Ja.
And if it did, he used it as fuel to keep working hard.
You Can Choose to Bet On Yourself
Ever heard someone say, "If I got promoted, then I would work harder"? Or, "If the customer paid more, then I would do more"? Or, "If I thought there would be a bigger payoff, I would be willing to sacrifice more"?
Successful people earn promotions by first working harder. Successful businesses earn higher revenue by first delivering greater value. Successful entrepreneurs earn bigger payoffs by first working hard, well before any potential return is in sight.
Most people expect to be compensated more before they will even consider working harder.
That's a deal he was more than happy to accept: Successful people see compensation as the reward for exceptional effort and not the driver.
Bet on yourself. Take less than you think you're worth. Do a little work for free just to prove how talented, how capable, and how skilled you really are. Do things that offer you the opportunity to learn, to grow... to become the person you want to be.
As Adam Grant says:
The best job isn't always in the most influential place. It's in the place where you can be the most influential.-- Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) March 22, 2019
It makes sense to join a less prestigious organization when it offers more opportunities for growth.#FridayMotivation #WorkLife https://t.co/fD7OtHwKni
Murray State isn't the Google of college basketball. Or the Apple. It's not the most influential place.
But it is the place where Ja has been incredibly influential.
When you see an opportunity, do anything you can -- sacrifice anything you can -- to seize that opportunity.
Then you can not only show what you can do... and also prove what your skills, talent, and expertise are truly worth.