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The Giving Tree: Treating Talent You've Outgrown with Respect...

You've probably been involved in a company that was growing by leaps and bounds before.  I've been involved in at least three, and it's an exciting place to be.

One thing that happens for sure in a high-growth company - you're always talking about the level of talent that's necessary to build the business, and the profile of what's required is always changing.  You need more experience, more Giving_tree entrepreneurs, more "hunters", etc.  The talent ticket is always growing, and one important thing can happen if you're not careful:

You can forget how valuable the "veterans" have been to the cause.  You know who I'm talking about - the ones who were with you at the beginning, during the lean years, even if they're struggling to perform at the level you need now.

I point this out not because of anything happening at my current company.  I point this out because a month ago, one of my sons pulled Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree" off the bookshelf to read at bedtime.  I can't read it or have it read to me without tearing up and thinking about my parents, or about my kids growing up and having life happen to them.

The talent connection hit me yesterday, when a blog called "Cavs: The Blog" chronicled the rise and fall of a NBA (professional basketball) center named Zydrunas Ilgauskas (known as "Z" to Cavs fans), who's been in Cleveland for more than a decade and just got traded as the Cavs are on the cusp of a Lebron James-led championship run.  Here's how the "Giving Tree" connection is built by John Krolik:

"Once there was a Z….

And he was drafted by a crappy team.

And every day the team would come

and he would score them baskets in the post

and find his teammates with sharp passes

and they would run the offense through him

and ask him to win games

and even after his feet were hurt

he came back

and he made the All-Star game.

And the team loved the Z

very much.

And the Z was happy.

But time went by.

And the team grew stronger.

And the Z was often not featured in its offensive game-plan.Z

Then one day the team came to the Z

and the Z said, “Come, team, feed me in the post and let me drain turnarounds and hook shots and benefit from my passing and rebounding and be happy.”

“We are too good to feed you in the post” said the team.

“We have a new player.

We need you to run the pick-and-roll and the fast-break and hit threes.

We want to build our offense around him and win games.”

“I’m sorry,” said the Z, “but I cannot explode to the basket or hit threes.

Take my 18-foot jumper, my passing out of the high post, and my rebounding.

Use me to defend the rim.

Then you will have a good team and be happy.”

And so the team put Z off the ball

and became an Eastern Conference contender

and won 66 games

and even went to the Finals once."

Read the rest of the post and think about the steady, dependable talent you've relied on for the last few years.  You don't have to be a basketball fan to recognize this morality play. 

Then think about the times you've wished for an upgrade. 

Then think about that damn tree. 

Somebody get me a hanky, because sometimes this world can sure suck.

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