Monday, April 15, 2013

Winners and...

35 years ago (I can't believe I just typed that phrase) I coached little league baseball. My youngest brother was a player and somehow I ended up running the team, and did so for several years, until he stopped playing.

I now find myself coaching (and thankfully not running)  little league baseball for my youngest son.  Talk about a time warp.  Personally, I find that I don't jump to the left like I used to.

While it is still baseball, it is a completely different world, as one would expect three and a half decades later.  There are many reasons, and they seem to me to condense down to two:  expectations and performance.

The players' expectations are high, but that has always been so.  The kids are eager to emulate their favorite pros and do so down to how they set themselves in the batting box or wear their caps in the field.  Many kids are decked out in brand-name gear and while the brands have changed, the debate over which is better and worn endorsed by which major leaguers is timeless.

Parental expectations are high, as well, but a little less innocuous.  They are eager for their kids to do well, of course, but parental pride and support is to be expected, if not always a given.  The difference I've noticed is that their desire to see Johnny/Sally excel comes with an expectation that their progeny will or should not fail.  This belief is manifested in what some call the "everyone gets a trophy" syndrome.

Sorry mom and dad, but failure is always an option.  And, in fact, it needs to be encouraged if you want Johnny/Sally to succeed.  The reality is that there are no shortcuts to excellence and the execution of fundamentals form the basis of peak performance.  Practice means failure, for a time.  And while it may not make perfection, it enables excellence.

Dr. Steven Covey outlined problems many companies face in execution and in one of his studies found that 51% of employees didn’t understand what they were supposed to do in their own positions to accomplish the company goals.

As we wrote a couple of weeks ago, training can come in many forms, and is essential to the growth of any organization.

That is why I'm loving my son's Little League manager -- a professional baseball coach (his youngest son is on the team.)  He has focused on skill training and drills, not scrimmages or unstructured practice.  His approach is that the kids will elevate their skills, if they know how to play correctly, regardless of their ability.  They won't be lollygaggers.  And he won't need to yell and scream.

Because when expectations are grounded on the fundamentals, execution will likely follow -- whether it's kids or pros, baseball or soccer players, salespeople or window cleaners.

No comments: