Who are you practising at being?
I remember an interview with legendary NFL coach Bill Belichick, winner of six Super Bowls, that went something like:
“With all you have accomplished in your coaching career, what is left that you still want to accomplish?” he is asked.
“I’d like to go out and have a good practice today,” Belichick replied.
“That would be at the top of the list right now.”
As a leader, Belichick understands that it’s not enough to be all he can be, it is about coaching and supporting others to be all they can be. The next practice session represents this opportunity. There is nothing more important, no higher priority.
What does “good practice today” look like for you?
Think like Belichick.
Given the structure of competition in team sport, standard setting is relatively obvious.
The competition sets the standard.
Not so for non-sporting organisations. It is the responsibility of leaders to set the standard, performance expectations now and into the future, achieved by aligning goals and aspirations with the only two key levers we have access to:
But we do not rise to the level of our ambition, we fall to the level of our capability, and leadership insight is critical. We will not achieve this understanding by ‘working harder’, it is achieved by ‘thinking harder’.
In the ebb and flow of life, leadership is more about the ebb than the flow, where learning and insight happens.
In response, I offer a simple and powerful system for leaders.
Diarise one-hour every week for a ‘think-harder’ meeting with yourself, preferably on the same day and time. If you’re absolutely required to do something else, and it will happen, do not delete the meeting from your calendar, shift it to the next clear space, be it later in the day, or the next day.
Think like Belichick. He would never lead a practice session without hours of thorough and thoughtful preparation, all aligned to a bigger strategy, despite the thousands of sessions he has taken, the planning being more important than the session.
Your ‘think-harder’ meeting will soon become the most important hour of your week.
Start the meeting by asking yourself “Who am I practising at being?”.
Good strategy, if nothing else, is the best use of constrained resources. The scarcest of your resources is you, mainly your energy and attention.
Are you making the best use of you?
You will not find the answer in your inbox.
You will not find it by refusing to leave the office, virtual or otherwise.
You will not find it on social media.
You will find it is by forming a new and powerful habit, the ‘think-harder’ meeting with yourself, building a practice of reflection, ensuring that you become the leader you seek to be, and what your team needs.
Go out and make your next practice a good one.
“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.” – Jack London
My favourite post-cancer quote. I am now nine-months cancer-free.
The Netflix series titled “The Playbook”, which focuses on what they call “A Coach’s Rules for Life”.
There are five coaches interviewed in the current series, only 35 minutes long, and include USA soccer coach Jill Ellis, NBA coach Doc Rivers and now Tottenham Hotspurs Manager Jose Mourinho.
A binge worth having, but bring your Moleskine notebook.
…and a timeless song lyric:
Love a rambling storytelling tune.
This is a beauty.
Jack White and the Saboteurs/Ranconteurs
I’m not sure if there’s a point to this story
But I’m going to tell it again
So many other people try to tell the tale
Not one of them knows the end
It was a junk-house in South Carolina
Held a boy the age of ten
Along with his older brother Billy
And a mother and her boyfriend
Who was a triple loser with some blue tattoos
That were given to him when he was young
And a drunk temper that was easy to lose
And thank god he didn’t own a gun
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“Neale, knowing that you are dying, why aren’t you working through your bucket-list of stuff?”read more
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