Okay, that’s not entirely true, I’m sure there are a few examples of thinking that actually worked out very well for people.
But, for the sake of this piece, humor me.
One of my great joys in life is coaching Little League baseball…with two sons, 12 and 9, I’ve been lucky enough to have over a dozen seasons to be on the diamond with little guys wanting to learn the great game. And, if you spend that much time on the field, you will observe any number of coaching styles…including the OVER-coaching style.
Drives me crazy.
Elementary school kids receiving an over-abundance of advice from Dads, Moms, uncles, older siblings, and coaches. These poor kids stand at the plate or on the mound with their ears wide open, trying to assimilate “tips” from every self-proclaimed expert in the park. With YouTube in the mix, everybody with internet access has an unlimited supply of “helpful” tips to share with their kid (and your kid.)
Usually, the reaction is predictable; Over-thought, mechanical, tight, and tentative ~ none of which help an athlete – or an employee (see? work tie-in right there baby!).
Several years ago, one of the kids on our team was having paralysis on the mound. It got to the point where he was literally frozen, trying to remember the encyclopedia of information that had been given to him on “superior” Pitching. You could see him mouthing the words, trying to get everything just right ~ his feet, his grip, his posture, his arm slot, his follow-through…frozen.
So, on my visit to the mound, I had a pretty simple message for my Pitcher: “Hit him.”
Player, now UN-frozen: “WHAT????”
“Hit him. Right in the butt, plunk him. And make sure you throw it hard enough to hurt.”
Player, now REALLY awake: “But Coach, I can’t do that!”
“Okay…try it once, then you can start throwing to the mitt. Just nail him one time.”
I walked back to the dugout, took a seat, and nodded at him…this was going to either be transcendent, or I was going to have a real problem on my hands.
First pitch, “WHACK!,” right on the rump. The Pitcher saw the batter wince, then take his base…at that point, he looked at me and started laughing – all he had to do was throw the damn ball.
Strikes, balls, hits, walks – who cares? Throw the ball, don’t “Pitch” the ball.
Taking his mind off of 2,000 other things, he had focused on ONE thing – the batter’s butt. It’s that easy. Now, think of the mitt. It’s that easy. Given the same opportunity with your employees, give them the ability to hit a few batters, reach back and throw the ball. Narrow the focus, minimize the number of messages, and make the game FUN. Soon enough, your team members will develop their own style, which may or may not be the way YouTube explains it…
Thinking only makes it worse.
[Note* I expect this kid to thank me in his post-game interview one day, right after Mom and Jesus.]