Among basketball fans, speculation about where LeBron James will go next, or whether he'll remain in Cleveland, is reaching fever pitch. Ahead of Friday's deadline to declare himself a free agent, bet makers are shuffling their odds, the sports media is working itself into a lather, and anxious fans are reading the tea leaves of James' social media profiles.

All of which is no doubt tremendously fascinating if you're a Lakers, 76ers, or Cavs fan. But even if, like me, you can't remember the last time you saw an NBA game, there's plenty worth watching in the spectacle, according to urbanist and author Richard Florida.

James might be one of the best basketball players in the world, but he's also an incredibly savvy professional who makes decisions regarding where to live and work in a way any of us can learn from, Florida insists on CityLab.

Where you play matters too.

For the dedicated hoops fan, Florida's article offers plenty of reflection on the specifics of James' next career choice (Florida, a resident of Rust Belt Pittsburgh, is hoping James stays put), but Florida also points out that it's not just basketball players whose career success is intimately tied to where they decide to ply their trade.

"For those of us fortunate enough to have the ability and means to choose where we can live, it is undoubtedly one of life's biggest decisions, if not the biggest. The career opportunities that are available, who we decide to take as life partners, and the networks and communities we become part of are all inextricably connected to where we decide to live," he writes.

Not only does where you put down roots have an outsized impact on our career opportunities and life trajectory generally, it also has a huge effect on our happiness, according to a ton of research. "There's no other intervention anybody can tell me about that has that dependable and lasting impact on happiness than your geography," insists Dan Buettner, an author who has written extensively about this research.

The fact is, where James chooses to live may determine how many championships he wins. But it's just as true that what city you choose to live in can determine whether you have the opportunities and collaborators you need to scale the heights of your chosen profession. (That doesn't necessarily mean, by the way, that the obvious choices like Silicon Valley are always best.)

Move like James.

While close to none of us can hope to move like James on the court, all of us should try to move like him when it comes to packing up and deciding on a new place to live. "While James' situation is extraordinary, there's a big lesson in it for all of us: to make our own location decisions as carefully and strategically as he is making his," concludes Florida.

In practice that involves weighing factors like financial realities, the quality of local talent, the value of your local support network, the potential for advancement, and available mentors against each other. But more than anything it means not being carried along by inertia or unexamined emotion.

Sure, home is where the heart is, and for some folks personal concerns will trump all other factors, but if you're serious about shining in your career, you need to think as strategically as James about where to put down roots.

Published on: Jun 25, 2018