The Advisor Institute: Coach's Corner
Unrequired work: The difference between being good and being great

Practical messages intended to help you elevate the success of your practice.

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      By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

      I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Eastman, former assistant coach to Doc Rivers for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Boston Celtics. Here, he shares his thoughts on the importance of unrequired work.

      David: "You've mentioned before that 'the best are the best for a reason.' Can you tell us what that means?"

      Kevin: "So many of us have been told since we were young kids that if we work hard, we're guaranteed to have success. But the world is too competitive out there. Hard work is important, but that's a given nowadays. If hard work is the given, the separator is the unrequired work. Are you willing to go beyond what's required of you?"

      "Let me tell you a story about Kevin Garnett. We were practicing a defensive drill and since Kevin was getting on in years, Celtics coach Doc Rivers would usually put him in for six or seven repetitions and then take him off the court. It's a long season in the NBA and he wanted to keep Kevin's legs fresh. But when he sent a rookie over to take Kevin out of the drill he refused to leave the court. Doc finally took him over to a neighboring practice court. Now, Kevin was out of the drill — but you know what he did? He started running up and down the court pretending to participate in the drill. Picture a future Hall of Famer, a 6'11" highly athletic, highly skilled player running around the court doing the exact same things he would have done in the real drill, except he's doing it by himself — without a basketball — and he's doing it full court."

      "Kevin Garnett wasn't expected to put in extra effort on those drills. It wasn't required of him. The lesson that Kevin taught me that day was that it's not just about hard work, it's about doing the unrequired work."

      David: "Let's translate this to the corporate world. I was doing a small workshop and in the front of the room there was an advisor who was completely focused and taking notes furiously on his iPad. Turns out he was the most successful advisor in that room by a long shot. Perhaps, the way he was so dialed in speaks volumes about how he's gotten to where he is."

      Kevin: "When you identify what your unrequired work is, it can give you an advantage and separate you from the competition. When I was a coach, I tried to read a minimum of two hours every day to stay relevant, gain more knowledge, improve, grow and develop. That's not required in my contract, but I knew that to get to where I want to go, I've got to do more."

      Bottom line: Being the best takes more than simply showing up and working hard. Good isn't good enough anymore. To be your best, identify what the unrequired work is that can give you an advantage.