Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill! (It’s not what you think…)

I recently returned to the pool to start working out again. I swam competitively for many years and then coached for several more. After a warm-up swim, I did what I had done for nearly every workout I've ever been through; I swam a set of nothing but stroke drills. Stroke drills allow you to focus on one or two specific aspects of a stroke allowing you to make small corrections to improve your swim. After the drills it was on to the meat of the workout and ending with a warm down. This structure really got me to thinking about how I structure my standard workday. Specifically, what drills to I do before moving into the hustle and bustle of the day?

Every job I can think of, from software developer to Human Resources Generalist to accountant to mechanic, has a set of core fundamental skills that are required to be able to do the job well. Many of us perform those basic skills without ever even thinking about them. I'd bet that it would probably take some serious thinking to even identify what some of those skills are for some of us. For example, in my job as an Application Developer there are some basic skills that I take for granted. I have to write, perform logical operations, type, give presentations, use email, instant messaging and several other tools to do my job. But how much time do I spend each day doing anything to improve my skills in any of those areas? Like most people, not much.

The coach in me is seeing the folly in this lack of drills. Even Peyton Manning, a great quarterback, runs through drills to improve his passing. What does your standard, everyday worker do? They jump right into the main workout.

Take some time today and try to identify some of the basic skills you use every day. Tomorrow, challenge yourself to spend part of the start of your day reinforcing some of those basic skills. Do this every day, and it will make a difference. I'd love to hear how it goes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Are You Coachable?

After my last post I was asked if people who participated in team sports when they were younger made better team-players in their later years. Of course, my answer was a resounding, maybe.

I say maybe because I think of some of those high school stars. You know the ones; movies are great at showing us the stereo-typical high school jock. The kid who was just plain better than everyone else. He could play any position in any sport you threw him into. And in the coach's eyes, he could do no wrong. He was the star of the school. But what happened to him after high school? He still lives in the same town, has little to no ambition and works in the same job he's had since graduation. He played team sports, but obviously didn't become a better team player.

The difference here lies within the individual. Just because you participated in a team sport, doesn't make you a coachable individual. True superstars are constantly looking at themselves and their performance. When they do something that isn't perfect, they look at what they did wrong and what do they need to do to fix it. A superstar relies on a coach to help them find the weak links and help repair them.

Can participating in a team sport make you more coachable? It all depends on you and your coach. A good coach will help you see your potential. They will help you build on your strengths, overcome your weaknesses and they will never let you place the blame for failure on anyone other than yourself.

When things aren't going right for you where do you look first? Is it because of everything going on around you? Is it someone who's done you wrong? Or do you immediately hold up the proverbial mirror and ask yourself what you did and how you can fix it?