Earlier this summer, I was at the NBA draft, watching the newest round of players get selected onto various NBA teams.
As is always the case, it’s a day filled with incredible excitement, anticipation, nervousness, and — for some — sadness.
Every year, it brings up memories of the year I was drafted. It was 1996, and the 24 hours leading up to the draft were a whirlwind. I was exhausted, rushed, nervous — and then so unbelievably excited when I was the number 3 pick, drafted onto the Vancouver Grizzlies. It was undoubtedly one of the best nights of my life. (Read more about that here.)
While watching the draft this year, I knew it was a momentous night for each of the newly drafted players, too. And as, one by one, they became part of the NBA, I knew exactly what was in store for them: the triumphs and challenges of their rookie season.
It struck me that each of us, no matter who we are or what we do, goes through a number of “rookie seasons” in our lives.
We all, at some point, start new jobs, or become new parents, or transition into new roles.
For me, my first rookie season was with the Grizzlies. That year was fast-paced, disorienting, and filled with “firsts.” Not only was the workload and competition in the NBA different than what I was used to, but there were so many new aspects of my life that were different, too. I was travelling a lot, trying to meet the expectations of others, and building relationships with new teammates. Plus, it was a big adjustment just being away from home.
Right now, I’m in the middle of another rookie season. Since starting my new role with the NBA G-League this January, I’ve once again been handling a whole new round of “firsts” — as well as new demands, challenges, and things to learn. On top of that, there’s “normal life” to deal with, like family and personal obligations, because life doesn’t stop just because you’re stepping into a new role.
But one thing I know for sure is that rookie seasons hold great opportunities for growth. Yes, they come with a lot of challenges and often feel uncomfortable, but the way they transform us into stronger, better people is valuable beyond measure — if only we embrace the journey.
So, if you’re going through a “rookie season” in your own life, here’s some advice:
- Embrace the past, present, and future of your rookie season.
The majority of the time, your rookie season signifies that you’ve worked hard to reach a new level or built up the capacity to take on a new challenge. First, take some time to appreciate what you’ve gone through in the past — as well as what you’ve sacrificed to get to this point. Show appreciation to those who’ve helped you along the way. Next, take a moment to appreciate where you’re at right now, in the present moment. It’s easy to get swept up and feel like things are just passing you by. Try to stop yourself from time to time and recognize that you’re here — at a new level. Finally, jump into the new challenge and embrace it. Acknowledge that there will be a time of transition, but that it’s safe to step into your future. It’s most likely the step, dream, or job you’ve been working toward. Enjoy and embrace it — both the struggles and the good times. Let it teach you what you’re supposed to learn.
- Keep it simple.
Rookie seasons aren’t meant to be raced through as quickly as possible — they typically last a year for good reason. You need time to acclimate, learn, adjust, and practice the new skills, mindsets, and behaviors your new challenge or role demands. So, try to keep things simple. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Organize what needs to get done when, and tackle the most important stuff first. Likewise, try not to take on big challenges in the other areas of your life at the same time. That may not always be possible, but if you can minimize your adventures to just one area of your life at a time, you’re a lot less likely to get overwhelmed.
Remember, all of us experience “rookie seasons” in our lives. If you can focus on the possibilities that new beginnings bring, you’ll find the gifts that come with growth and watch transformation happen in the transition. It’ll be worth it, I promise. Congratulations — and enjoy the ride!
P.S. Have you ever had a rookie season in your life? If so, leave a comment and let me know what it was!