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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Jeremy Lin: A Vivid Illustration of Pop Quiz

Have you heard the name Jeremy Lin lately?

If you haven’t, you are missing out! His name was plastered all over the front page of USA Today and the local paper in Sacramento where I stayed last night. He was the hot topic on ESPN today and stores can’t keep his number 17 jersey in stock. Jeremy Lin has led the New York Knicks to a six-game win streak while the team battled injuries to stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.

Jeremy Lin

by nikk_la via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s what makes his story so unique. Jeremy Lin was a nobody just over a week ago. The fact that he is the first American-born player of Taiwanese or Chinese descent is only the beginning of the story. He was sleeping on his brother’s sofa last month, and sitting on the end of the bench, as a sub, for the New York Knicks NBA franchise.  Suddenly, Jeremy Lin came off the bench, and scored over 120 points in a week, and led the Knicks to a week-long winning streak. In New York, he is causing “Linsanity.”

On the surface, it appears Jeremy Lin became an overnight sensation. The reality, however, is quite a different story. His journey to stardom began years ago with no fanfare. Let me share a handful of observations about his career:

  1. This young star began getting ready when no one was watching. Jeremy Lin was an un-recruited high school player who attended Harvard University. He wanted to get a good education and prepare for what came next.
  2. Jeremy Lin played basketball at Harvard, but again, no one really wanted him after college. He was disappointed, but knew he’d just have to keep working. He did not give up on his dream, however, when no one drafted him.
  3. Jeremy Lin continued playing in the face of two NBA rejections. After being acquired by two franchises, both let him go, not seeing any potential for play in the NBA. One might think that after two experiences like this, you’d begin to get the idea.
  4. When the Knicks finally signed Jeremy Lin and kept him, he was willing to sit on the bench and sleep on his brother’s sofa. He continued to practice and wait for his opportunity to come one day.
  5. When his day came—probably sooner than he expected with his teammates injuries—Jeremy Lin was ready. At 23 years old, he came of the bench and held a clinic on the court for everyone to see.

I believe Jeremy Lin is a living example of one of our Habitudes. It’s called: “Pop Quiz.” The truth of this principle is simple—On the journey to leadership, life gives you pop quizzes. Effective people have prepared and are ready for such tests. They embrace them as friends not foes, and rise to the challenge. Just like a pop quiz comes unannounced and only the prepared do well, leaders—like Jeremy Lin—have been preparing all their lives for such quizzes. Most of it has been in solitude. Hmmm. And people call him an overnight sensation. I beg to differ. Jeremy Lin has done his homework.

What do you think about the “overnight” success of Jeremy Lin?


  1. Kim Wilson on February 17, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Lin’s success is encouraging and exciting! I wish more people would stick with their dreams until they become reality. Lin’s a great example of sticking with it, no matter what.

  2. Boca HickOry on May 3, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    I do consider all the ideas you have presented on your post.
    They’re really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick for starters.

    May just you please extend them a bit from subsequent time?
    Thank you for the post.

  3. Cheryl J. Owens on September 16, 2021 at 7:03 am

    I admire Jeremy Lin for his contribution to the national team. Working hard and staying focused on goals in life will lead to success, he believes. In life, I see him as an ideal for my success. After reading about him now I will read article to know about the top 5 celebrities in the world who achieved their lives’ goals through their passion and hard work.

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Jeremy Lin: A Vivid Illustration of Pop Quiz