Sports Metaphors, Language of Business
Sports metaphors infuse the language of business. I bring this up because of some recent meetings with corporations. My approach to these corporations has been that mental training will help their employees (athletes) perform at a higher level. The reply was that while they believed in the concept, there doubt was that someone from the sports world could communicate with many of their highly technical employee’s (geeks and nerds).
My answer was a smile. At first I subtly changed the subject to the Seattle Sounders FC because I had noticed something in this directors office that lead me to believe he was a Sounders fan. He explained that while he was a fan, not all of his team understood soccer, football or baseball. at this point I started interjecting, I hoped with some semblance of being shrewd, the language of business.
I started asking about departmental issues. Where were projects off base. He had he said some team issue, not everyone was playing ball. He had to make some judgement calls about personnel soon. Dealing with such a diverse workforce meant working with some people that were just out in left field. I said exactly, he said WHAT?
Here’s my pitch. You and your staff are immersed in the language of business and much of this involves sport metaphors. We can’t help but use it as it is so entrenched in our lexicon He stared at me still not getting that he had used 4 sports metaphors already. I asked him if he was ready for a curve ball. He said sure and at that he had an aha type of moment. now of course I had been slipping in metaphors into the conversation throughout the meeting and he began to understand more of what I was driving at.
If our language of business was so ripe with sports metaphors, wasn’t the very nature of the way his business unit ran. First he refers to his unit as a team. Then he mentions at another point that they don’t always play well together. His sales team was doing well in that they were hitting nearly 400, but a few were not ready for the major leagues.
I brought him back to his point that his team of geeks and nerds would not understand my mental training and team building exercises because of our language barrier. We discussed emotional intelligence and team building. I demonstrated how these construct fit his business and how important they were to his success. I talked to him about the ways that athlete set goals and how this variation in goals setting would make so much more sense to his team that some more traditional techniques. I guess I hit it out of the park as he conceded the point and I now have an opportunity to train some very interesting people who think they know nothing about sports but are about to discover the athlete within. To learn more about my business programs please follow the link to The Mental Game Team Building page.
The montage below is one I created with my iPhone and Photoshop of course. The signs are on the parking structure just south of Safeco Field where the Seattle Mariners play. It is an art project by Donald Fels called Six Pitches. Note his plaque on the bottom right corner. Yes if you are counting I left off Knuckleball. In sports and business we sometimes deal with knuckleheads, but I thought I would leave that out of my presentation.
A year in review 2012
I’ve not ever felt a need to do this before, to have a year in review. It is a new experience for me. I want to look back at 2012 with clarity and be able to move forward in new ways. So taking my own advice, I am going back over the successes and of course challenges of the past year. You can cut to the chase by going to the last paragraph if you like.
Starting with the Athletes and their sports
Sounders FC U23 Player DeAndre Yedlin with Mike Margolies
I worked with an amazing group of athletes this year including those in the following sports: Golf, football, gymnastics, hockey, equestrians, soccer, tennis, swimming, softball, baseball, track, diving, roller derby, basketball, triathlon, cycling, fencing, water skiing, fitness, power lifting and lacrosse.
Competitor’s ages ranged from 12 to 70+. Competitive levels were club, high school, college and professional. Seven high school athletes earned scholarships or were accepted to their first choice college as an athlete (Ivy League = no athletic scholarships). One college walk-on earned her full scholarship. Most the athletes, but not all, were starters on their respective teams. In the end all were starting most of their games. I worked with a few teams as well at the club and minor league levels. All in all it was a very good year for the clients I worked with. If I were to put it in baseball terms, I would say that we batted around .900 Read the rest of the post by choosing more…. (more…)
Why take the bat off your shoulder and other cliches
This is just a very short post. I saw this posted on Facebook today and it reminded me how important it is to make use of every opportunity.This is “Why take the bat off your shoulder”
Lou Gehrig began his streak of 2,130 games played on this date in 1925 when he pinch hit for Pee Wee Wanninger. Most people remember Gehrig replacing Wally Pipp at first base the next day.
What might have happened if Gehrig had looked bad at the plate the day before? You never know what will happen.
One at bat and a historic career gets off the bench. Interestingly, Wanninger is best known as the player who ended one consecutive-game streak and helped start another. As a rookie, he replaced Everett Scott at shortstop for the Yankees on May 5, 1925 to end Scott’s then major league record of 1,307 consecutive games. On June 1, 1925 Lou Gehrig started his famous 2,130 game consecutive streak when he pinch hit for Wanninger.
Wanninger missed his chance, Gehrig made history, The Hall of Fame and a lifetime of memories for himself and baseball fans.
What will you do with your chance today? That is not only the big question, but it begs another. When do you know that the opportunity of a lifetime is knocking on your door? If you don’t swing at a pitch because you are afraid of making an out, you may end up as a historical footnote. We get pitched to everyday of our lives. I don’t mean that in terms of offers to buy things (which of course is true too), but things happen in our lives everyday giving us the chance to step up to the plate and hit it out of the park. Yes we may often swing and miss, but the effort is critical. Baseball players even of Lou Gehrig’s stature only at best hit the ball safely less that 4 out of 10 times. You never hit unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
So I imagine I’ve used enough baseball clichés to make you shout enough already. I’m trying to make three points at once here. First of course we never know when the chance of a lifetime will present itself to us. Second is that unless you take a risk and put effort into the things we do, we have little chance for success. My third point is more devious. I wanted to show just how much the language of sport is infused into everything we do. It doesn’t matter if we are talking baseball (or other sports), business or our personal lives, the language of sports and all its clichés and metaphors have become inseparable in our daily lives. My tag line on this blog is “How Sport Psychology Explains the World”. My meaning is that mental training for sport applies to more than just our actions on the field or court. It applies to everything we do. It may be cliché but success in all aspects of life is related in similar ways to that of successful athletes. The lessons learned from competition at the highest levels apply to business and even or relationships. How we use our emotional intelligence, how we deal with stress are all factors in our life. I teach athletes that they are the one’s in control. They have the power to become what they want, to dictate the terms of their careers in sports. Is it any different for you, the lawyer, business person, chef, engineer, mechanic, etc? If you want to change your life the secret is inside you. You may be missing the tools right now, but they are available. Now just as I can’t help an athlete win a gold medal if they are missing the right genetic makeup, I can help them become the best that they can be. This is true for all of us. We may have educational limits. We all have attributes that make us who we are. We can be the best we can be, all we need to do is not pass up opportunities, be willing to risk swinging the bat and perhaps, just perhaps seek out the tools that will make us happier in our lives using the mental tools to bring things together.
So take that bat off your shoulder and swing for the fence, grasp life in your hands and risk failure. It’s a hell of a lot more fun to play the game than to sit on the bench, just ask Pee Wee Wanninger and Wally Pipp.