Career Lessons from Stephen Curry

What Can You Learn from NBA's MVP?

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Some great career lessons can be learned by examining the careers of prominent athletes.  After previously featuring Derek Jeter, Charles Woodson and LeBron James, the next athlete to take a look at is reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry.​

The Curry story starts with being the son of former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, who played in the league from 1986-2002 and nailed more than 1,200 three-pointers himself.

  Despite this fact, Steph was not highly recruited out of high school, based on his slight frame, but landed a scholarship a Davidson.  He was a star from the outset, averaging 21.5 points per game as a freshman, being named a second-team All-American as a sophomore, and averaging 28.6 points (to lead the nation) and being the first team All-American in his final season.

He then declared for the NBA draft where he was selected seventh by the Golden State Warriors in the 2009 draft after other guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn.  In his first two seasons, he was solid averaging around 18 points a game and showing good potential.  His third season was marred by ankle injuries - he only played 26 of 82 games.

Before the 2012-13 campaign, the Warriors and Curry agreed to a four-year contract extension of $44 million for four years,  He blossomed that year as he became a 20 point per game scorer and in 2014 he was an All-Star, and by 2015 he was the league MVP and led the Warriors to an NBA title.

So what lessons from Curry's journey can you apply in your life and career?  Here are a few to consider:

You Do Not Need to Be a "First Choice" to Be Successful

Heading to Davidson, Curry was overlooked by more prestigious basketball programs.  He was selected by the Warriors after two other teams selected point guards just ahead of him.

  Were these setbacks for him?  Maybe at that moment, but he went right to work to prove his worth in both cases.  And you ought to do the same.  At some point, you'll be hired for a role after others turn down the position - even though you may or may not be aware of it.  Regardless, the key - as Curry demonstrated - is to perform immediately and ignore the circumstances under which you were chosen for the position.

If You Sign It, Honor It 

The deal signed in 2012 left Curry with a lower salary than several of his teammates.  But at the time it was a risk for the team, as Curry was viewed as an injury risk.  Curry took the safe route and took the money and security, rather than risking another injury lowering his market value.  But never once has he complained, even though he is the MVP.  Could you continue to perform at peak levels, while being "underpaid?"

Connections Help But Are No Guarantee 

Not mentioned earlier is Steph's brother, Seth Curry.  He was recruited by the top collegiate programs and played at Duke.  But Seth has struggled to launch his NBA career, bouncing between NBA teams and the league's developmental program.  So given an advantage that Steph did not have, Seth is still trying to find a role, and may yet.

But it is a good reminder that having advantages like connections can help, but it is the performance that ultimately counts.

You Can Always Work on Your Game 

After winning the 2015 MVP award, was Curry at his peak? Was he ready to rest on his laurels and just play out his career?  Hardly.  In fact, his continuing hard work and dedication to his craft have become public knowledge.  Specifically, his ball handling drills and pregame shooting, which are drawing crowds up to two hours before game time.

Do you have that passion for pursuing continuous improvement, as Curry does?  If so, it may unlock an MVP-like performance in your career.  Think hard about ways that you can fine-tune your efforts to improve "in game" performance.

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