Lessons in drive and determination from the Toronto Raptors


Were you among the hundreds of thousands of Torontonians who showed up along the Raptors parade route? It was an astonishing sight to see so many people cram the streets to thank the Raptors, and also a testament to the team’s tremendous achievement.

The Raptors’ championship win, in fact, has had me thinking a lot about showing up in the face of uncertainty and adversity.

This is no mere NBA championship win -- it’s the unseating of a dynasty by what still sometimes has felt like an expansion team to the outside world.

But the reality is that there is nothing “expansion” about these guys, from the front office to the paint.

They showed up and they put in hard work, their absolute best, day after day, focusing exclusively on what they could control and shutting everything else out as noise.

Sometimes that still wasn’t enough, and tough choices and sacrifices had to be made. But they kept showing up. They were resilience personified.

My one takeaway from all this is that if you want extraordinary results and outcomes, you have to be prepared to do extraordinary things.

When the work is the toughest and the uncertainty the worst, you show up.

When clients -- or the fans, in the Raptors’ case -- demand the impossible, you show up.

Having that focus, and playing every second like you’re playing for the championship, is a huge success determinant.

Yes, the artistic beauty and almost peerless skills of a Kawhi Leonard on your team is critical. So is the vision of leaders like Raps president Masai Ujiri and the guidance of a coach like Nick Nurse. But make no mistake about it, it’s the Fred VanVleets of the world who also enable their teams to win the championships -- the people who toil away no matter what, who keep plugging away regardless of the obstacles, who never give up, and who show up day after day after day determined to do their best work.

Populate your teams and your companies with Fred VanVleets. Make the tough choices so that you believe entirely in the team you’ve put together, the way Ujiri did. And -- like the Raptors, but probably without the parade -- you’ll find a path to success.