Do you remember the last time you eagerly anticipated an event? Maybe it was a New Year’s celebration or an old friend coming back to town to visit? For me, it was actually a volleyball tryout – not for me – but for my returning volleyball team. I coach high school girls club volleyball in the winter. Tryouts were in early December and I hadn’t seen my team play since April. As the girls walked into the gym, I think I was more excited than they were. I wondered, “How have they improved since I’ve seen them last? Have they become physically stronger? Gained more mental awareness of the game?”
As tryout progressed, I was pleasantly surprised to see my girls jumped higher, hit harder and played smarter. It was impressive to see them make such strides.
I think business strategy can be closely compared to sports strategy. I’ll take good inspiration anywhere I can get it and won’t discount the lesson, even if the origin is an unlikely place. Here are 5 lessons I learned from my high school volleyball players in tryouts that I hope to carry into the new year:
1) Appreciate the distance traveled. Too many times we get caught up in planning for the next year, and we forget to celebrate what we’ve accomplished in the last one. Recognize the change in your business game and in yourself as a business player. Even the smallest strides are worth noting – when you can see a change, it can motivate you to work toward the next goal.
2) Let your competition motivate you, not intimidate you. As a player, you spend the year working on improving yourself only to be shown up by another. Don’t hate the competition – Let that better player push you to be better in everything you do. Don’t shy away from it but meet it head on and push through it.
3) True character is shown after the play is over. When choosing players for my team, I’ll choose a girl with a little less talent and a lot more hustle over one with a little more talent and a bad off-court attitude. The same goes in business. People like to do business with those they can trust, so develop your business to be one of character that does the right thing after the play is over. Potential customers are still watching and it makes a difference.
4) Step it up when it counts. When you’re on the verge of making the team or making it to your next goal, remind yourself why you’re in the game and keep pushing. Extra effort at key times can be the difference between making your goals and it’s so refreshing when you do.
5) Take action and keep your promises. The end of tryouts is just the beginning of the season. The same is true with business. A customer hires you because you make certain promises. But when the contract is signed, the real work begins. Will you keep those promises of support and take the action on their behalf you promised? I hope so.
I hope we all can approach 2013 with a little more new perspective and humility that what we leave 2012 with. Make it a great new year!