I have written many sports analogies over the years, especially ones dealing with coaching kids. You will never convince me that there are not valuable life-long lessons from these experiences.
Baseball season is once again upon us so a few days ago, I drove past my old “field of dreams” Little League ballpark to reminisce. Staring out into the outfield I was reminded of a powerful lesson I learned on how to gain consistent maximum performance from a seven year old playing a most unpopular position.
First, let’s be real. When it comes to seven year olds, getting much focus other than the end of the game cookie at any position is pretty difficult, even more so for those delegated to the outfield. During the early years, very few balls make it out of the infield, BUT those playing in the infield are involved because they get to field, throw and catch the ball so naturally it is easier for them stay engaged.
Outfielders however have a different view of the game. Many of them see the game through clumps of dirt or rocks or even a bug or two. They quite often dance to their own tune and on occasion, some just head into the dugout during the middle of an inning. The reason as stated above is simple, not much happening for them.
As a result of this reality, many times kids in the outfield decide this is not fun and soon determine they don’t want to play anymore. They don’t get excited about the games and they especially don’t like going to practice. Which brings me to the first lesson learned…if a player on your team is not having fun, whose fault is that? If you said the coach, you are correct!!!
One particular game on a very hot July Saturday afternoon, our machine-pitch team’s right fielder was having one of those days as described above. Nothing was happening in right field and he spent a lot of his time getting his uniform dirty playing in the dirt. After a few “Will, get up buddy, here we go” pleas from me, he gave in and got in ready position again. Thankfully our time in the field ended quickly that inning and we came off the field and got ready to bat.
The kids who were about to step up to home plate dashed off the field and quickly put their hitting gloves on and grabbed their high dollar bats. Will however, was down the list in the lineup and when coupled with a very hot, boring inning of zero activity, he slumped and slowly headed to the dugout.
As Will approached me, I had a defining moment with him that I will never forget. I saw the disappointment in his eyes and I took it personally. (Not to get of track here, but how about you? When you see your fellow co-worker or team mate hurting, does it bother you…Do you even notice!!!!)
Okay back to the story. I put my hand on his shoulder and I dropped down to one knee and looked him right in the eye. “Will” I said, “I have never told you this but on draft night before the season started and we were picking the players we wanted to be on our team, your name came up and I could not wait to pick you to be our right fielder. I could not think of anyone I would want more than you, so when your name was called I said…The Aztecs choose Will, and I am so glad you are on our team…give me five!”
Both Will and my world changed. His countenance changed immediately! His eyes lit up and a huge smile covered his face. He gave me a BIG high five and ran into the dugout. I have to admit, this brought a tear to my eye…it does to this day!
The following game, as the players and their parents were arriving for pre-game warmup, Will was the first one there. His dad came up to me and said’ “Coach, I don’t know what you said to Will but he could not wait to get here. “He’s been looking forward to this game all week!”
I’m going to get off track again… BOOM! That’s what everything we do should be about. I can’t tell you how that made me feel. As a coach as a human, to me, that’s our purpose! Okay, now the conclusion.
I thanked Will’s father for his comments and headed to the dugout. Will was the first to meet me. “Right field today coach?” “You’re the best right fielder I know buddy”, I said and off he went.
From that day on, Will’s outlook and performance changed. He was more attentive in the field, he liked coming to practice. Why? Did he start seeing more activity in right field? Did he move up in the batting lineup? No.
Here is the lesson. Just like Will, we will perform at our best when we are recognized and valued for what we do. We just want to! I believe at the moment I told Will how proud I was that he was on our team, he could have moved a mountain!
I coached youth sports for years and we never had the strongest, fastest most talented athletes yet we won more championships than anyone else during our time. My study if filled with championship memories.
The reason for this success is clear…kids WANTED to be on our team and they WANTED to play their best for us! Why? Because we never let a time go by that we did not tell every player how valuable they were to us. We would always say that the most important hitter on the team was the one at the plate. We did not let batting order be a distraction. Every at bat was equally valuable! We believed that effort and attitude would always trump mere talent alone. I still believe that today!
I think the lesson here is clear. It is for me. I to this day, do everything in my power to sincerely acknowledge a colleague, co-worker or client and express my appreciation for their influence and impact on the success of my livelihood. I do the same for my family and friends too.
So stay alert. Keep your eyes open and the next time you see someone who feels like a Little League right fielder, hand them their glove, look them in the eye and tell them how proud you are to know them and be on their team! It will impact your both exponentially.
I recently experienced a major loss in my family. My father passed away because of a serious car accident. I know many of you reading this have experienced a loss like this but regardless of when or how it happened…it leaves a permanent hole in your heart.
The reason I start this writing with this announcement is that during his brief stay in the hospital, the nurses and doctors, therapist and other medical team members kept a constant view of a couple of monitors and what could not be seen on a monitor, was checked with regularity by a skilled care giver. I am talking about vital signs. Heart rate, temperature, breathing and blood pressure.
These important signs are designed to let you know the status of your physical condition AT THAT MOMENT! They are a current measure of your condition. Naturally, if any of these signs go beyond a stated benchmark (especially in a critical situation) action must be taken immediately.
There are vital signs to the condition of our business or our work. They too display our condition at that given moment. So, if you want to know where you stand…at any time, check the following vitals:
Finally, there are two types of care you can implement regarding both physical and business or work vitals. One type of care is acute: This means action immediately or serious consequences will result. Acute care means a life-threatening situation.
The other care is preventative: Simply monitoring your vitals regularly and infusing them with a proper diet, activity and vitamins will help keep you healthy, energetic, focused and on target to make your dreams a reality.
So, there are your vitals and their specific types of care. These five things can show you at any moment where you are and are also a great indicator of where you are headed. The question now is…which type of care will you choose.
Best wishes for a very successful 2017!
To learn more about me visit www.timtivis.com
I’ve been writing quite a bit lately, but I am about to get busy and hit the road again. So, before I do, I wanted to share this article with you in hope that it will inspire you like it did me. Enjoy.
I found this great little home-owned café in my town a few months ago that makes a great breakfast. It’s one of those places you can smell the aroma from the parking lot. It is just as you would imagine; checkered cloths on the tables and a stack of extra chairs are located against the wall, just in case they are needed (they usually are!). The only contemporary event that takes place, is that you must wait to be seated.
On my first visit, I was waiting in line for my turn to be seated, when the couple in front of me asked if they could be seated in Maria’s section. I did not think much of it at the time until my next visit when the same thing happened again. A gentleman asked if there were any tables in Maria’s section. Now I was curious…what was so special about Maria’s section? Did it have a better view, was the room nicer; what? I had to find out so when it was my turn, I too asked if there were any tables in Maria’s section…there were.
As I glanced at the menu to look at all the options (although I already had my mind made up) I looked up and coming into our section of the café, was the biggest smile carrying a coffee pot I had ever seen! She walked up and down the aisle, filling coffee cups, asking if there was anything she could do and conversing with folks like she had known them her entire life. As she approached me she said “Good Morning” My name is Maria and I am happy you stopped in our café for breakfast. May I start you with some coffee?”
Keep in mind that her job description probably did not require her to tell me her name, afterall it was right there on her badge. And she probably was not required to tell me she was happy to see me…but you could tell she genuinely was! The entire time she was waiting on customers, she had this heir about her that she really loved what she was doing. Whether it was delivering hot plates or clearing dirty ones, she did each task with a purpose and an attitude of how much she enjoyed her job!
Needless to say, when I left that day, I too felt as if I had known Maria my entire life. There is just something about a person with a positive, welcoming approach to life and to work, that draws you to them. Maria like all of us, has the ability to make the best or the worst of what we do day after day. I don’t know if Maria’s goal in life is to be a waitress, if it is, she will make the hall of fame. If she wants to pursue other aspirations, I can’t help but believe the doors will be wide open.
Here is the point. We need to make our customers feel like they are sitting in Maria’s section every day. Waiting in line so to speak to do business with you! We need to enjoy and be thankful for our opportunities and make the most of our day. Regardless of what you do, if you are fortunate to get up tomorrow morning and go to work, you are blessed.
Now hold on; I know things aren’t always going to run smoothly. I am sure there were days that Maria may not have felt like being so outgoing, and perhaps just before she came down the aisle to refill all those empty coffee cups, she may have had an encounter with a disgruntled customer. The point is that if she did, you never knew it. She never showed it. She just kept making the most of her day. I learned a lot about running my business and my life from the events I witnessed in this cozy little café.
So as I draw this writing to a close, it is my hope is that you too will learn a valuable lesson from a waitress named Maria; to be thankful and make the most of every day; to make each customer feel like a welcomed friend.
Tomorrow has a new opportunity for me. I think I’ll start off with a good breakfast…hope there’s a table in Maria’s section!