I have had the pleasure of coaching youth sports for twenty-one years, essentially my entire adult life. I Have coached everything from football to baseball to basketball to wrestling. Regardless of the sport, everything starts with the fundamentals. Fundamentals do not always stand out, but they are the foundation of success in whatever world you live in. Good fundamentals are not just required in sports. They are required to be a good public servant, an educator, a businessperson, a pastor, or to serve your community well as a volunteer. Even more, they are necessary to be a good husband or wife, father or mother. Today we explore the four ways practicing good fundamentals make us better community leaders:
Fundamentals Require Repetition
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell presents the concept that it takes you ten thousand hours of doing something to be proficient at it. That is crazy when you think about it! Take the world you live in and apply that theory! It is so very true though.
Being good at something requires doing it over and over again. If you were to attend any practice of a team I am involved with, you will see the same thing. We develop fundamentals first. You come to an early season baseball practice, we are learning how to catch and throw before we head to a tournament. You come to an early season football practice, we are learning to block and tackle before we play a game. In fact, we do not start blocking before we learn to get in a proper stance. We do not start to run plays until we learn to break the huddle and get to the line of scrimmage and get our feet set. I know it can drive parents crazy, in fact it has probably driven some of you reading this crazy that have seen it firsthand. It is like watching paint dry.
Here is what I know from experience. In the end, we are always prepared. Anxiety builds to be ready for the first game. We may only go in with six offensive plays, but we are going to be really good at executing those plays because we have done them over, and over, and likely over. We always start slow, but finish strong in the end. Life and leadership are a marathon, not a sprint.
Fundamentals Require Discipline
It can be challenging to stick to the fundamentals. It is hard to remain discipline. Fundamentals can get boring. It is easy to get distracted by this shiny thing called success. Sometimes that shiny thing is advancing in your career, from Assistant Coach to Head Coach, from Teacher to Principal, from Associate Pastor to Senior Pastor, or from Vice-President to President.
In an incredible episode of the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, he interviews leadership legend John Maxwell. Maxwell tells a story (twenty-five-minute mark) about a “kid” that had come up to him at a conference. The kid said, “I have decided to do what you do.” Maxwell responds with, “I have a question for you…would you like to do what I did, so you can do what I do?” Later in the podcast he says, “we see the success of somebody…not realizing there was a whole process of daily disciplines that got them there and without those, they would have never had that day.” That is leadership gold!
Success Can Be Had Without Fundamentals
You can be successful without practicing good fundamentals. It is possible and does happen. This can be seen in the world of travel baseball. Coaches assemble talent and play a lot of games. They become good at playing games. They are so busy focused on winning that they skip a critical step in the process, developing fundamentals. Practice takes a back seat to games. The kids do not develop the fundamentals. Their parents may be able to post a lot of pictures under the scoreboard with a trophy in their hands after the tournament, but this success is always short lived. It is not sustainable.
One of my new fitness habits is to hike Kennesaw Mountain on the weekends. Almost used the word climb, but for those of you that are not familiar with the mountain, it is really not that big of one! It is kind of a big hill. It is a good hike though! When I hike, I cannot fix my eyes on the summit of the mountain, i.e., success. There are tree roots, rocks, and steps. If I look too far ahead, I can stumble and fall. I must pay attention to each and every step along the journey and not get too far ahead of myself. It takes a lot of little steps to get to the top. I could get in my car and just drive to the top and have the same view, but I am better long term for taking the hike.
Fundamentals Take Over When Things Go Bad
Former heavy weight boxing champion and apparent part-time philosopher Mike Tyson once famously said that, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Fundamentals are what we fall back on when we get punched in the mouth. When chaos hits. When crisis walks through the door. Last week in the post Nineteen, we looked at the punch we have all received, COVID-19. We talked about that people will remember how you led during the crisis, guaranteed. You did not lead well? They will remember. You did lead well? They will remember.
In all sports, we teach our kids that in games, things move faster than in practice. When you drill something over and over the right way, you respond the right way when you have to react. Crisis does not always give us time to plan out a response, we just simply have to react. If we skipped the fundamentals or left out a step in the process, failure awaits.
The fundamental could even be our character. Character can be summed up as who you are when no one is looking. If you act differently when no one is looking than when they are, it builds bad fundamentals. When things go bad, this is the person you will revert to. If you act the same when no one is looking as when they are, it builds good fundamentals. You are prepared for game day!
As a community leader, you are responsible for bettering others and the world you live in. Practice good fundamentals, no matter where you are at in the journey.
Ordinary to Extraordinary Intersection
How are your fundamentals? Do they need some repetition? Have you experienced what you believe to be success and abandoned the fundamentals? Is your success sustainable? Who are you when no one is looking?