Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
Have you ever had that frustrating moment when your team was clearly underperforming? You were frustrated and they were EQUALLY frustrated and despite your best efforts to correct, coach, align, and explain it seemed to get worse. It may be simply that you lost sight of your vision.
I was coaching a talented, young basketball team that seemed to be playing tight. They were afraid to make mistakes. The fact that they would not take open shots began to frustrate me. The team was hesitant and seemed to lack confidence and aggression during games.
My assistant coaches and I couldn’t understand why they were afraid to shoot. We were not getting on to them for shooting, in fact, quite the opposite. We encouraged them to shoot. But you don’t easily forget the look in an 11-year old’s eyes when they realize they disappointed you. The drooping shoulders and body language of a child who is simply crushed. They look up and see disappointment in your eyes as well, but they don’t understand the disappointment is not with them but with yourself and how you failed as their leader.
So I went to the white board and started looking at our problem statement and realized it was ill defined. We were trying to solve the by-products and not really looking at the root cause. We thought the problem was a lack of confidence or frustration but in reality, it was the fact that the mindset of the players was not conducive to be free of pressure.
We realized that the environment we created was placing pressure on the kids to succeed and a feeling of them having to be perfect. We were focusing on achieving perfect results instead of a perfect effort.
We mistakenly put all our focus on our goal to win a state title. But was that really what we ultimately desired? At the end of the day is that what we value? As a goal, it is limiting and time constrained. We missed the mark. We became short-sighted and focused on bottom-line results - not the bigger picture. It was a goal, by definition, but we let it take the place of our vision.
We stepped back and thought about the future state of these young people we were entrusted to lead, and the vision became clear. We want to create an environment where kids are comfortable to stretch beyond their current capabilities to increase their chances to be successful in the future.
With this as our vision, we changed our entire approach to practice and games. We changed how we engaged them as players and people. We shared the vision with them and the understanding that IF we achieve our vision, we MAY achieve our goal of a state title. But maybe not. Whether or not we win a state title doesn’t take away from the vision and the type of adults they will become or from the impact that they will have on others throughout their lives.
When you feel lost, take a step back, take a deep breath and re-establish where you are and where you want to be. Look up from your path and the obstacles in front of you to gain a better perspective of all that is in front of you as well as how far you have traveled. By focusing on your why, on where you want to be, it puts you down the pathway to your vision. By focusing on the process, instead of the score, you will find true growth. That is how you achieve your goals Beyond Today.
UPDATE 12/21/21: As I prepare for my 2022 One Word, I like to look back at the process I used to select previous One Words and also assess how that word helped me navigate the year. Last year's word of FOCUS was a tough one for me... but the right one. I was able to focus in on some key areas of my life but also struggled to focus in on consistent effort in other areas. That is what makes this process so exciting - the ups and downs, the momentum and turbulence. It IS life! Good luck on finding your One Word for the new year.
In the final 2020 post of Beyond Today, I introduced you to Jon Gordon’s book, One Word That Will Change Your Life. I really hope you had a chance to read the book and if not, I suggest you visit the website, https://www.onewordchallenge.com/ to find out more about the concept.
Part of the value in the One Word process is to share your one word with those you care about and who care about you. Those who are committed to your success that are comfortable to challenge and encourage you on your journey. As fellow employees and friends, I want to share with you my one word for 2021: FOCUS.
2021 Goals: I will focus on…
As I mentioned in the previous article, the journey to the word is not always straightforward. I first landed on LEGACY which really hit home for where I am at in my life with the passing of my own parents and as I prepare for a 3rd child to head to college. But soon I realized that FULFILLMENT was required before I could establish a legacy. This word was reinforced through conversation with various people and mentors and each time I heard it, it would trigger something in me. But then I realized I had been here before and found myself needing to recommit… to RENEW my previous goals. Now it was becoming clear. I couldn’t deliver a LEGACY without FULFILLMENT but I would not reach that without a RENEWED effort. As I was writing down what I needed to do it literally came into focus… I must focus on renewing this… I must renew my focus on that.. Everywhere I looked I realized my life was littered with crumbs of partially focused events - whether at work or at home. Distractions prevented me from moving down my path not because they were obstacles that I could not overcome, but because I was not focused on moving them or simply ignoring them and stepping over or around them.
I encourage you to begin the process, if you haven’t already, to find your One Word for 2021. The process as described by the author, Jon Gordon is to ask yourself 3 questions: What do I need, What is in my way, and What needs to go. Then you begin to pray asking God what he wants to do in me and through me. That’s it.
When you find your One Word, you will know it. I am confident that I will be able to adjust my FOCUS in 2021 to what is critically important now, but not lose FOCUS on what lies Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.