Spend any amount of time in a meeting when I'm discussing technical
leadership and distinguishing talent and you'll hear the name Michael
Jordan dropped more than 3-point shots in a Final Four game. I frequently
ask people to fill in the blank in "I'm the Michael Jordan of (blank)
The goal is to capture a series of contributions; to express what you're
good at in terms of an area you define through technical actions:
how are you like Mike? The premise is that Michael Jordan is associated
with basketball, from Tar Heel to Second City to wearing #45. I use
the expression to help identify one area in which an engineer is
distinguished; a technical track on which their professional development
is riding. It's not a single defining moment, a Miracle on Ice
event setting the standard for other contributions; the Jordan reference
is meant to elucidate a series of contributions.
of the Jordan highlight sequence goes back to the
1982 NCAA Championship game, in which Jordan hit a shot at the buzzer
to defeat Georgetown. Shining moment material, but before the vernacular's
initiation. For the past decade, CBS has concluded NCAA tournament
coverage with a video montage set to David Barrett's One Shining Moment.
Don't let any guy tell you otherwise -- especially a guy with kids of his
own, or a guy who has been to one or more March Madness games -- guys
mist up at this song. Personally, I think it's because the montage covers
every small moment that defines the tournament, not just the winners'
highlights. It's the complete opposite of being Michael
Jordan; the four minutes of highlights include cheerleaders, mascots,
bands, and players on the bench. We all see bits and pieces of life
reflected in the small screen as midnight approaches, the first Monday in April.
One Shining Moment reflects what life is like for the 63 (out of 64)
teams whose seasons
end with a loss (even the wikipedia references for NCAA results show
invited teams and the opponent who beat them).
If there's career advice buried in here, it's that careers are built on
montages of shining moments, whether they're emails from happy customers or
presentations well done or difficult problems solved with maximum doses of
caffeine, creativity and collaboration.
Aside from blogging while watching the Florida-UCLA game, shining moments
and tournaments are top of mind because we have just concluded our youth
hockey season with a tournament in Lake Placid, New York. Each year, we
make the drive north to play on the 1980 Olympic rink, skating in the shadow
of the Miracle on Ice. The goal is simple: play on Sunday morning in the
medal games, which requires finishing in the top four teams in your
tournament division. We started this morning's play in dead last, needing
a win and a tie (or two wins) to play hockey into April. Our boys (and
one girl) were holding onto a 1-1 tie deep into our first game of the
day, when a strange turnover in our own end turned into a goal for our
opponents with 2 seconds left on the clock. Our season mathematically
ended with a loss, to our league rivals coached by former 1980 Soviet
Olympic team member
Sergei Starikov. You can read whatever connected consciousness
implications you want into this. It was a tough loss, and we had
barely enough time to air out the hockey bags before we had
to play again.
Our tournament and season ended five hours later, with a 3-2 win that
came down (again) to the final seconds. The players piled on our
goalie, shook hands and skated off the ice all smiles. We broke
a 7-game losing streak spanning two years of Lake Placid tournaments with that win.
It's highly unlikely any of our young hockey players
will be the next Crosby or Ovechkin, creating Michael Jordan highlights
in the NHL, but they are likely to remember being
complimented by referees and coaches for their sportsmanship, running around
the hotel and town as a team, and ending their season with a win, shining
moments for any 12 year old.