This post is part of our Monthly-ish Tips series.

120712-F-AQ406-077Those who know me know I readily admit to being grossly (and unapologetically) ignorant when it comes to just about anything sports related. Only every once-in-a-while a news story will catch my eye, as was the case the other day with American basketball superstar LeBron James. LeBron had an important message for his critics, and it’s one we can all learn from.

The catalyst was LeBron catching flak after the Lakers-Pelicans game for hugging a rookie player on the opposing team. In a post-game interview, he was asked about the sentiment behind the “moment” that they shared. In his straightforward reply, he talked about what he sees as his obligation to mentor younger players no matter the team:

“I just feel like it’s my responsibility to leave the game in a better place … if I’m able to give my wisdom … while I’m playing or after I’m playing … it’s my job because the game has just given me so much.”

Near the end of his response, LeBron addressed any critics who might say it’s a sign of weakness to be buddy-buddy with guys he’s going against. He simply said, “Tell them to kiss my a**. Then added, smiling, “With a smile, too.”

It strikes me squarely between the eyes that LeBron’s mindset, translated into a business context, links directly to what co-author Charlie Green once whimsically called “Buddhist Capitalism,” where trust and collaboration prevail and zero-sum games (I guess both the literal and figurative kind) shift to 1 + 1 = 3 games.

Charlie offers this for his own critics:

“It’s far from crazy. The lesson of the Prisoner’s Dilemma work in game theory is that a collaborative strategy always, always beats a competitive strategy if played long term. Research shows that collaboration produces more innovation than solitary introversion. Collaboration and trust build on each other, increasing knowledge of both parties to the point where they can jointly add value, cut costs, and reduce risks.”

For those out there committed to playing the long-term game in business, hear my plea: The next time you’re focused on doing the next right thing and someone says you shouldn’t mentor young people from other firms, or tells you you’re crazy for doing things like having candid conversations with your clients about your competitors’ strengths (not just your own), now you know the inspired response.

Our own professional variations of “Kiss my a**” are the most trustworthy replies because in trust-based business, it’s our responsibility to raise the level of the game for everyone, and always for the ultimate benefit of clients.

At least that’s what I say corporate athleticism looks and sounds like in a Buddhist Capitalist world.

Make It Real

This week, examine what triggers you to focus on “winning” in the short-term rather than playing a more rewarding and lucrative long-term game. What do you discover?

Learn More


Refresh on the four trust principles by watching Charlie Green’s webinar on three anchors for bolstering your business, or brush up on the essential mindsets of trust in Chapter 1 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).