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A growing season for the Denver Nuggets? I can relate.

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It may not always be pretty, but this is often what the path to success looks like.

Nikola Jokic scores on LeBron James in the post.

The Nuggets have faced a lot of criticism lately for missing out on the playoffs, once again. Despite holding onto the 8th seed in the Western Conference most of the year and providing a bit of hope for playoff basketball back at The Can, the team fumbled through the last few weeks of the season and ceded the 8th seed to the division rival, Portland Trail Blazers. It’s the 4th straight losing season in a row for the Nuggets organization and each year that fans wait feels longer and longer.

Hindsight is always 20/20 so it’s easy to critique the many shortcomings of the players, coaching staff, and front office in April after everything is played out. The Nuggets never figured out how to play defense and they still struggle mightily with inconsistency, closing out close games, and rotations. That said, the Nuggets have also made incredible progress this year.

They’ve established an identity with their point/center superstar on deck Nikola “Magic” Jokic, rookies Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez & Malik Beasley are showing to be the future of the Nuggets’ organization, and the Nuggets boast the #1 offense in the league. They also improved their win/loss record by 7 games over last season.

Personally, I relate to the growing pains the Nuggets are experiencing this year on multiple levels. First, I’m a female working in a predominantly male industry, and I started pretty low on the totem pole almost 8 years ago—okay I started at the bottom. At first, I made many mistakes (often repeatedly) as I was learning. Fortunately, I had a few mentors who gave me invaluable advice that has been the foundation of the success I’ve had in business over the years.

Second, as a blogger, I just completed my rookie year so I will always remember this NBA season. This is my first full season contributing with the sports media, and I’ve taken many of the principles I learned while I was developing as a businesswoman and applied them as navigate the sports industry.

So, if any of the Nuggets rookies are reading this, maybe you’ll find these things as helpful as I did, and currently do.

Never let someone make you feel bad for being new.

Everyone is new at things from time to time, and like anyone else, you need to allow yourself room to learn and grow. You’re going to make mistakes, but learn to separate who you are from the mistake you made and you’ll be able to extract the lesson. And if you’re a “veteran” learning a new facet of your line of work—this same principle applies.

The Nuggets are full of players who are very young in their NBA careers, and even some of their veterans have never played past the first round of the playoffs. Coach Mike Malone is also a new coach so he’s going to need time to learn and develop. You may be thinking, “I don’t have time for learning and growth, I want success now!” Well, that’s not how this works. Success takes time, but when it comes it’s so much fun. How much sweeter will it be when they’re winning with stars they helped create and develop rather than picking up someone else’s?

Learn to navigate through challenges without giving up.

“No freaking out” is a message I always give to myself whenever I face a situation that seems insurmountable. Take a break mentally then get back to work, and you’ll find yourself past the problem before you know it. Anyone who expects you to be successful without facing seemingly impossible challenges has never experienced success at something great before.

There are many who are ready to give up on the Nuggets because they dropped their playoff position at the 11th hour this season. Yes, they’ve struggled with being inconsistent, but just because it’s that way now doesn’t mean it will always be this way. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Nuggets are learning to navigate through difficulty without throwing in the towel so they can compete at a higher level moving forward.

Learn when to not take advice.

The best advice I’ve ever been given is to not take advice from anyone who is less successful than you. This doesn’t necessarily mean they make less money than you, but rather, if they’re not experiencing the results they want in their career, marriage, etc., take what they tell you and throw it out the window. (This is different than hearing a lesson someone has learned after failing at something.)

Everyone has their opinion on what the Nuggets need to do more of, what they need to do less of, who they need to get rid of, and trade for—present party included. While we may not be privy to the internal strategies of the coaching staff, the Nuggets certainly have their own plan they’re executing. There are definitely some changes that need to be made, but given the dramatic improvement we’ve seen this season they’re on the right path.

I feel a special connection to the Nuggets this year since I’m learning and growing along with them. If you’re on the fence, don’t give up on them just yet. I’m confident we will see a winning season and a playoffs appearance from them next year.