• Adam Tarnow

No Switch to Flip

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

I'm a slightly below average head baseball coach. I've never coached an undefeated team. Never had a team finish in first place. Never been feared by another team.

I was one of those coaches who emphasized the importance of character over skill. My baseball teams had lots of character-building opportunities. Said another way: we lost a lot of games. Honestly, I was a day-time drinking habit and beer belly away from being a modern-day version of Morris Buttermaker.

My coaching style had a major flaw: I hated practices. Managing ten 1st graders on a baseball field for an hour felt like herding squirrels who had been let loose after being caged all day. Practices developed my character, not their skill.

I loved the games. The squirrels were confined to another cage (i.e. the dugout). They were much calmer. The games, however, often didn't go well. Why? Athletes have this uncanny habit. They play just like they practice. All coaches know this principle: you play how you practice.

This principle applies to more than just sports. The same is true with communication. As a leader, you will not grow in your ability to communicate if you don’t seek diligence in all the small moments. The small moments get you ready for the "big" moments. You play how you practice.

There's no switch to flip. If you don't aim to be an excellent communicator 24/7, it won't happen. when the "big" moment arises. Every interaction, every day is an opportunity to practice how you will play.

Every conversation with your family.

Every email you send.

Every meeting you lead.

Every lunch appointment.

Every phone call.

Every interaction while running errands.

Every conversation is an opportunity to practice. Practice your storytelling. Practice clarity. Practice brevity. Practice empathy. Practice simplicity.

The way you practice is the way you'll play. Don't ignore the everyday moments you have to practice. Don't miss out on these daily opportunities to improve.


[1] Photo credit Unsplash: @twinfisch

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