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Are You Playing Games? I Hope So!!!
By Jack Donohue   Printer Friendly Version

"Playing games" has the connotation of not being serious about what it is that we do - I'm not sure that is true - Let's take a look at what a 'game' is like.

I have been playing games all my life, as a player, coach, administrator or just fan. Most would agree, considering my years as a coach in high school, university, the pros and most recently the Olympics.

But every business I've been in, I've treated as a game:

Family - I'm one of the coaches, and one of the players.

Sport - one of the coaches and part of the team.

Business - I've been a coach but also a player (performer).

Television - I've been a performer as well as a coach (producer).

What is it that you do … and why can't you treat it as a game??

Let's look at how games are played and YOU decide how close what you do is to a game.

Goal - Whether it's making budgets, producing a movie, writing a book, selling a car, or coaching a team, you need a goal … what I want to do … you've heard it before:

"You can't start until you know where you want to go."

A business plan, a sales program, some sort of a beginning. It may start as a dream, but eventually it develops into our overall goal. Remember, as a basketball coach has said:

"Most of our future lies ahead of us"

Players -- Can't win without them! These are your performers. The people you will lead (coach) - the better they are, the better your chance to make your goals (dreams) come true. There are many considerations: How to get (or train) them? How and how much to compensate them? How will they / we work together?

Strategy / Training -- While these look like two separate steps (and maybe they are), training is dependent on strategy. We evaluate our product, our people, our customers and decide on a strategy BUT all this is really dependent on those players who will do the job and we must train them to do the job within the strategic confines. We should remember that strategy should be modified by talents of players and training adjusted to reflect differences in people. Dale Berra (on his dad, Yogi):

"Our similarities are different."

Strategy -- how we will attain our goal is called our strategy. It may be short or long term. It will be a driving influence on how we train our people - our "Game Plan."

Play the Game -- A sales program, a day at the store, a football game; they all start have rules, and end. We win, we lose, we play well or poorly … but it's not the end of our season (our business, our family, our life) - here is where many of our leadership (coaching) skills come into play. Have we "planned our play … and played our plan?" How good were we at adjustments? Did we react well to the changes we could (did) not anticipate? How did we handle the good times, the bad times, the dull times?

Review -- In the words of Yogi Berra (baseball coach):

"You can observe a lot by just watching."

Good coaches review every meeting, every practice, and certainly every game - How did we do?? It's the question of business, sport and life. While a review can be a time-consuming process, it can be a short, productive time. In sport, where we review daily, if not more often, we've used this formula with success.

Keeping our goals and strategy in mind, we ask ourselves (coaches, players, support staff):

What do we have to do more of?
What do we have to do less of?
What do we have to do differently?

If we can answer these three questions (in 15 minutes or 5 hours), we can move to the next step: adjustments.

During the last 25 years, we have scheduled a weekly staff meeting (coaches, doctors, trainers, managers, psychologists) to discuss: "How have we stopped our athletes (employees) from doing their best?" - Would this kind of meeting on DE-motiva-tion help you?

Remember, don't be afraid of talking out mistakes - they are part of every solution. Fear of failure is one of the great blocks that stop us from achieving great things in sport … and in life.

Keep in mind - ball players get paid millions of dollars for hitting safely in 3 of 10 attempts - teams go to playoffs with few more victories than defeats. Who knows who said:

"You have got to bat 1.000 in airplane rides and operations … in sport we're looking for excellence."

Play Again - Yes, we have to do it all over again today - But that's what life (sport, business) is all about - doing our best today, learn a little and go out to do your best tomorrow - It is the one thing that is not going to change.

Have I convinced you? I hope so! I sincerely believe that those who treat their life as a game will get the most out of it.

Tips from The Coach

  • Luck is where opportunity and preparation collide!
  • Potential - I'm more interested in developing talent - Not all potential is developed. As Casey Stengel (baseball) once said: "He's now only 19 years old, and in ten years he has a good chance to be 29!"
  • Fun - build it into whatever you do!

Have you learned anything? I hope so. Will you use some? I hope so. If you didn't get much, then in the words of a football coach after a poor review,

"You can always cancel your prescription!!!"

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