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3 Career & Life Tips We Can Learn From The Raptors

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

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As many people know, the Raptors won the Eastern Conference Finals on May 25thof this year - they even won the first game of the finals yesterday - so I was inspired to write a blog post of what their success could teach us in regards to our career or life.

Although I have watched basketball here and there before (even some live games), I only got into it a week or two ago with the semifinal fever. Being Torontonian, it was easy to get swept away. This said my analysis of the situation, and the nuggets we could learn from them, came from a diehard fan. You may agree or not agree with the following points, however, for the sake of brevity I decided to narrow it down to these three:


Practice was a big factor for their recent wins. It seemed like the whole season, not to mention the work they put in before, prepared them for this moment. If they can do it in the regular season, they can do it in the playoffs. Also, they did not always have easy opponents, during the playoffs, which helped them to out-warrior the Warriors last night.

Practice is also a key component to success according to Robert Greene in Mastery, Cal Newport in Deep Work and Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers to name a few. We do not have to read these books to know stories of music prodigies who put in their 10,000 hours or tech moguls who started tinkering around hard or software when they were young. We all know examples of this, however, it’s good to be reminded that practice is not an obsolete stage with our ever-increasing technology, learning and mastering new skills, and combining it in a creative way, will allow one to stand out from others, be less susceptible to cuts or loss and have greater choices even into the future.

Switching Things Up

Speaking of choices, we can continue to do the same and expect different results or we can switch things up. Masai Ujiri, the president of the Raptors, decided to switch things up when he fired Raptor’s Coach Dwayne Casey, not a popular move by many fans, and hired Nick Nurse.

It was not only Nurse, but other personnel change that changed the culture of the team. Often times we have to interrupt the pattern in order to allow for new opportunities and outcomes even if it is not comfortable or a popular choice at the time. I know for a lot of my clients, hiring me was a way to switch things up. They were tired of doing it on their own with no change.

With Nurse in their corner, things continued to be switched up with different lineups and different plays. This and practice ultimately led them to where they are today in the finals.

Taking Risks

A large part of switching things up is taking risks. It was a huge risk for Ujiri to fire Casey, who ended up winning the Coach of the Year award. He also traded DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard, knowing Leonard had only one year left on his contract and was injured for most of last year. The other big leap he took was getting Marc Gasol at the trade deadline. These were not easy decisions but taking these risks contributed to their overall success, some would argue it is the sole reason.

I would still be teaching with little work and life balance if I did not take the jump to coach. It was a big decision, however, I was determined to make it work. Four years later it is still working which I am highly grateful for. Are you taking risks in your career or business? Showing initiative with a project or an idea could be a risk but you also run the risk of “blending into the background” and constantly complaining about not getting the advancement you are looking for or feel you deserve.

I truly believe these three factors contributed to the Raptors current success, however, from my understanding, I also believe there was a mindset shift with Leonard on the team. Yes, it goes back to switching things up, however, who would anticipate the confidence boost of having Leonard play with the Raptors? There seems to be some sweet synergy with that specific addition that elevated everybody into believing that winning is possible. Success is possible, in fact highly probable, when you surround yourself with people who support and elevate you, even if it starts with one person. Leonard, even Nurse, seemed to do that for the Raptors, who is doing that for you? Who is celebrating you and believing you can achieve more than you think you can at the moment? I would stick with them or get a coach or mentor who does.


Ps. If you want to switch things up and feel coaching would be a good route for you, please contact me for a complimentary Get Acquainted Call to see if I can help.

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