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How the Best Get Better and Have More Fun

Spring training for Major League Baseball is well under way with each team quickly playing approximately 36 spring training games.

For at least one member of our household the light rises beneath the horizon. As the Canucks slip out of sight the Blue Jays reappear, 162 regular season games soon to illuminate the evening hours. (Who talks more about hope – the Canucks, the Blue Jays or the Christian Church?)

Gaye Spring (opt) training__1458667118_207.216.39.75A granddaughter Zoe quote – “My grandma knows everything about baseball. She watches every game!”

My own interest tends to be lukewarm, usually 4 innings max; nevertheless, as in all things to which one is continually exposed, I have absorbed some details.

One of the things which has caught my attention this spring is the focus upon fundamentals. All around the diamond – pitchers refine pitches, infielders work on positioning and footwork depending upon the scenario. Hitters huddle to talk about stances, hand positions on the bat, bat weights, strategies for different pitch counts. Outfielders gauge the flight path of hundreds of hits; they run their routes and practice throwing to each base. And more.

Part of my surprise comes from my superficial, mostly unconscious, images of professionals.

My previously unexamined impression was that people earning millions of dollars each year to play the game had long ago excelled at the basics and now would focus upon more esoteric aspects of the game. And perhaps for part of the time they do but their attention to the detail of the fundamentals impresses.

Inevitably diagnosis of a slump or recurring poor sequence of play returns to the basic skills.

The implications of this for my own professional life feel obvious. Do I pay enough attention to the structure of my communication pieces, written or spoken? Is the beginning engaging, are the transitions fluid and logical? How does the cadence of emotion feel? Am I clear about what I want the audience to know, feel and do as a result of the investment of their time?

How quickly do I yield to the “this will be good enough” stance? Given a full schedule, sometimes the “good enough” position is warranted but has it become a habit?

My deeper worry is when this approach goes viral in my life. Professional patterns “just above average” can be deadly; in personal relationships the pattern can be fatal.

So spring training has raised some basic questions. Has my tendency to withdraw when tired or under stress become more than an occasional strategy? Am I taking the time to figure out what is “going on” with me during this transition into the next phase and am I sharing that? Or has “I’m fine” become the default? Do I take as much care that my communication with loved ones is as clear and caring as I do with an audience of 600?

Fundamentals. How the best get better!

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