It is amazing the range of topics that we cover on our weekend walks through the dog park. As the dogs are running and wrestling, sniffing and rolling, we are talking and enjoying a hot coffee. There is a fantastic book by Vince Lombardi Jr., “What it takes to be #1, Vince Lombardi on Leadership,” that describes leadership from his legendary father’s perspective. Today, I want to build on some of the aspects of this book related to one’s personal preparation to be a better leader. However, instead of football this will be in reference to what is known in the US of A as the “fall classic – The World Series.” I am not going to break down all the details of the games and the gajillion stats that this sport has because I am not really a baseball guy. I admire the athleticism and skill that the MLB players have. The accomplishments are incredible. And so are the plays that these men make on a nightly basis.
At the dog park last Saturday, we talked about a small sliver of video from game #4 where two of the Houston Astros elite pitchers, Garritt Cole and Justin Verlander, were spotted in the dugout talking about the finer aspects of certain pitches. They were showing each other different grips and talking about spin/rotation and a number of other things. They were not scheduled to pitch that day and they were talking about their craft. In detail. In excruciating detail. Because they want to get better. They respect each other (they are two of the pitchers considered for the AL Cy Young award as the best pitcher in the American League) and know they can learn from each other. They have different pitching styles and strengths relative to the types of pitches they throw.
And yet, they wanted to learn from the best, in each other’s eyes. This was the fascinating part in our dog park conversation. The concept applies to any personal vocation.
Jeffrey Gitomer and Anthony Iannarino are sales gurus that have the experience and expertise to know what you can achieve by investing one hour a day with extra study in the craft of selling. Consider this – if you studied sales material for 1 hour per weekday, that is 5 hours per week and 240 hours per year, taking 4 weeks off for vacation. This is the equivalent of one full month of full-time study. And if you are disciplined in your efforts, you will be committing to the right type of hours to help yourself gain expertise in your craft.
Marketers should be studying at the same level of discipline and effort to improve their understanding of human behaviour and how to create differentiation for their product or company.
Some leaders join CEO peer groups, like MacKay CEO Forums, to learn from the experiences of their colleagues in different industries. This is like CEO school.
Notice that in all these examples, the players involved, or the training recommended, was not designed to solve a particular problem? The shared experiences and wisdom from others can be assessed and translated so that you can create your own distinction and advantage. Yes, core principles will be offered. But it is up to you how to adapt for your particular situation, personality, strengths and needs.
When was the last time you asked a senior colleague, in your company or in another industry that you admire, to let you buy them coffee or lunch to “pick their brain” about a specific topic where they are successful? Jack Canfield, in his book “The Success Principles” suggests this approach as you are trying to learn from other’s experience and success. What is the worst thing that happens? The other person says “no” and you have to try a different approach or a different person.
But what if they say “yes” and you get the time to meet? Now you can be ahead of others. You still have to apply what you learn and craft it for your situation. There is no magic bullet in this process or approach.
You will get a bit better every day. Practice on the right techniques and behaviours. Then, your actions can be reviewed and improved. A necessity as the world changes and adjusts around you.
And then one day you will be the person that others will ask to meet. And of course you will say yes. Because you know that even if you study the grip and spin rotation and see how the expert does it, you still have to practice throwing the ball if you want to get really good at it.
And at after this discussion at the dog park, we end with “Hey Trappar, fetch this fastball!”