Permission to Spring Train

9 Mar

Ask any baseball fan if spring training is important and you’ll get a funny look.  Athletes need time to practice, try new things, build camaraderie with new players, and ease back into the swing of things (pun intended).  Coaches need time to build a cohesive team, to figure out the new lineup and to instill a vision for the regular season of play.

Training, in the business world, gets a bad rap. When it’s done at all, it’s often rushed, minimal, and not far-reaching.

Allow yourself and your employees time to train. Time to stretch and grow before thrusting them (or a project) into the limelight. Time to grow comfortable with the procedures.  Time to grow confident in their abilities and to coalesce as a team.

It’s not a time for slacking.  Everyone should be aware of the time line – the big presentation,  the deliverable date, the “Go Life” meeting, Opening Day! But it should be a time for structured play.

Structured play differs from person to person and from team to team:

  • Prepare a report first thing in the morning, right after lunch, and at the end of the day. Time yourself to learn your optimal report-writing preference.
  • Determine 3 separate solutions to a current problem.  Discuss pros and cons for each, have others help you decide on the best course of action.  Also works with refining current processes.  Look at best practices and challenge yourself to improve on them.
  • Read an industry or job specific article every morning.  Discuss or ponder on the way to work.  Engage in a dialogue about it with another coworker.  How should what you read affect how you do your job?
  • Once a quarter my boss and I allow ourselves to “dream big” for an afternoon. If I had all the time and resources needed, what would I want to accomplish to improve my job/our company/our department effectiveness?  Over the past three years, I’ve been able to implement some of those changes (after more realistic modifications).
  • Thinking about starting a blog?  Guest blog for some friends, write a few posts and get feedback from those you respect, start reading good blogs.  All great ways to “spring train” for the main event

Results don’t matter in spring training. A team’s record in spring training doesn’t mean a thing. It’s about physical health and mental preparation.  Know when results matter and when they would just be a hindrance. Don’t get discouraged by failures.  View them as another day of spring training, another step closer to Opening Day.

Those who are prepared look forward to Opening Day.  They expect the wonderful because they trained for it.  Those who aren’t, are missing out.

“You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” – Joe DiMaggio
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