This Week’s Focus Point: Small Target – Big Results
Mentors are important for success and significance. One of the best mentors I had when coaching high school basketball was a legendary coach from our area. Coach Harney was a member of the Seattle University team that played in the Final Four back in the 1950’s. One of his teammates was Hall of Famer, Elgin Baylor. Coach Harney went on to coach for over three decades (and still volunteers) and made it into the Coaching Hall of Fame in this state for his accomplishments.
Coach was always willing to share ideas with me, especially when it came to developing skills in players. One of them was quite unique. He told me that he had his players practice missing free throws. That’s right…missing them. It seemed that my players were pretty adept at missing them without any practice, but I digress. He explained that it wasn’t simply missing that mattered, but how they missed. He instructed his players to pick a small spot on either side of the rim. That was the exact spot he wanted them to hit and miss. He believed that if they could get so good at hitting such a small target, making it into the bigger target during a game would be easy. His players proved him right.
The concept of focusing on small targets isn’t just for basketball. I’ve used the same principle in golf. I’d suggest to you, missing small with your business objectives will carry the same big results.
Here’s what I mean. Instead of setting grandiose goals with long time frames, why not pick a small target (e.g. one week) and laser focus on one accomplishment (e.g. meeting with two prospective clients, finishing an important project, writing three chapters for your book, or de-cluttering your work area)? If we aim for small targets, we improve our focus, which leads to better results and greater confidence. It’s much better to move one thing forward a mile than 10 things forward an inch. Focus on small targets will train your brain to be sharp and in the moment. It will require you to eschew multi-tasking, which is another benefit!
Find something small this week to focus on and watch your results grow.
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This past Thursday, I posted two 1979 photos of my junior high basketball team and of me for Throwback Thursday on Facebook. We were undefeated at 12-0 and I was doing a little “Glory Days” posting. I received well over 120 LIKES and comments over the next several days. Many memories, good-natured jabs, and fun stories. There was one comment however, that resonated with me.
One of my teammates on that team and again in high school was a guy named Mark. Mark is the best high school basketball player I’ve ever seen, and through the years I’ve watched a ton of high school basketball. Mark had a nice college career and although he never made the NBA, his skill and abilities in high school were unmatched. He was easily the best player on our team, and the guy who was able to carry us when we needed it. Within all the comments on Facebook, myself and several others made this case. Mark is still a friend and he quickly posted back… “Also Dan, it took all 14 of us to go undefeated.”
When the star of the team makes the statement that it’s about the team, that solidifies a culture. Athletic teams all know who the best players are. The pivot point is if the best players are the hardest workers, the most generous, and put the good of the team above their own best interests. Mark did that, and that’s one of the reasons we went undefeated.
In your company, are the “stars” divas or do they make the other people around them better? If you’re the star/rainmaker/rock star, do you improve the condition of your fellow employees, your company, and your clients? Would your colleagues agree with you?
Life is a team game. We all have different skills, strengths, and roles. The companies that are primed to go “undefeated” have stars that are willing to be part of the team, rather than stars that are about their own glory.
Is your “team” (business, family, community) ready to play?
I had a recent conversation with a consultant that I did some coaching for a few months ago. She shared that she was finally coming to a point where she had to stop comparing her results to a time when she had no children at home. Back then, she had more time (and energy) to work on her business. Now, she juggles her time with her career on a smaller level while she does a great job of being a mom (her most important career).
I confirmed her thinking by telling her that at one time in my youth, I could jump high enough to touch a basketball rim (10 feet). Twenty-six years, 20 pounds, and a bad Achilles later, I’m lucky to clear a basketball laying on the ground. If I used the same metrics I had back then today on touching the rim, I would be failing miserably every time and that affects my outlook.
Sometimes you have to change your metrics and your mindset. There are good reasons for change in life (parenthood and age); and good reasons in business (economy, products, mergers, technology). Life and business require reinvention. For some of us, reinvention might happen on a more frequent basis, but it still must happen. When it does, it calls for reassessment of objectives, metrics, and goals. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time and energy trying to touch a rim that is out of reach. Rather find new results that match where you are today and where you want to go. That way, you’ll be in position to slam dunk every time!
The words of CBS college basketball analyst (and former Supersonic), Greg Anthony as he was talking about Ohio State star, Aaron Craft. Craft made a game winning shot against Iowa State with less than a second left in the March Madness tournament. Anthony is absolutely right. Great players always put the failures of the past behind them and move towards success on the next play. That’s exactly why I’ve never become a great golfer!
In watching the Gonzaga game Saturday night, many folks around here are calling Gonzaga “chokers.” In reality, in a game where there were three distinct momentum shifts, Wichita State had theirs at the right time…at the end of the game. The Shockers made 3-pt baskets like they were layups for the last 3 minutes of the game, as momentum swung furiously in their favor.
To be successful in business and life, you need both a short memory and momentum. On the latter, you can successfully keep momentum going with activities and behaviors that you know work, but sometimes are tough to keep doing. Keeping your head down and doing the right things consistently and intentionally will keep those momentum bursts on your side of the court. On the former, the best way to keep ding all those right things is to have a short memory. Forget the rejections; forget the naysayers; forgot when people say you can’t; forget unsolicited advise; and forget the speed bumps that are there to slow you down.
I love basketball for so many reasons, but one of them is clearly the lessons it teaches off the court. If you want to be successful in your life – professional and personal – keep momentum on your side and have a little selective amnesia.
I am heading out for New York to meet with my professional mentor, Alan Weiss. It’s my turn to jump in the “total immersion” pool. I have a ton of new “irons” percolating in the fire and I need help to get them moving in the right direction. You can’t be brilliant by yourself.
The timing is right. I’ve had a terrific first quarter, but the game is just starting for the year. Forward momentum is crucial for business. When I coached basketball, my biggest in-game concern was always momentum. I always substituted and made changes based on who had the momentum, which can change in an instant. In fact, we had specific practice drills to emphasize momentum. It was that important. It’s that important for your business, too.
What are you doing in the 2nd quarter of your game to build momentum, not just try to maintain? The end of halves are vital in basketball games, and in business games.
If you’re not careful and become complacent, you’re in danger of having the pendulum swing. It becomes really hard to turn it back, and requires effort, time, and often money.
I hope you will be keeping track of me as I bounce around the Big Apple. I am happy to be taking Barb for her very first trip. Pictures, posts, and surprises to follow on this blog right here! Stay tuned!
There is a tragic story coming out of Oklahoma State University this morning. Head Women’s Basketball coach Kurt Budke and his assistant Miranda Serna were killed in an airplane crash following a recruiting trip. This happens as college basketball is getting started and leaves the university both mourning and grasping for answers.
Certainly, the focus is on the families of Coach Budke and Coach Serna. However, their loss at such a critical time is also an example of how important it is for organizations to be prepared for “human redundancy.” Certainly, the team has other assistants, but these were the head and first assistant. How well prepared the assistants are to take the reigns of a major college program will soon be seen.
What about your organization? Who is next in line if something happens to you? What if a crisis occurs like this where the top two or three go down?
This is often a difficult subject to talk about, but it must be done in businesses of all sizes and even families. Tragedy usually occurs suddenly and having to make decisions in real-time can lead to problems. Take the time now to work out those issues and potentialities. None of us are invulnerable to them…
Intriguing interview with Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown. He talks about “chemistry.” His definition of chemistry is TRUST. I think TRUST is the key component in sports, business, and in your personal relationships. The question is asked at about the 2 and a half minute mark of the interview. His answer is worth listening to.