August 4, 2020
People that know me will tell you that I am a happy and resilient person. I was raised with the belief that your attitude and energy were what would help you navigate everything in life.
Lately, that energy has been challenged by all that is happening in the world politically, socially, and economically. It’s hard to stay focused and positive when the game and the rules always seem to be changing.
While reflecting upon the disruption we’ve all been experiencing, I was reminded of a lesson my father taught me while having a difficult time at work. I had launched a successful initiative and my CEO, immediately following congratulations, asked me, “What’s your next home run?” I had been catapulted from excitement to uncertainty in a matter of seconds. I believe the question was intended to maintain positive momentum, but I let it derail me.
I called my father, as I often did for coaching, and shared that I was struggling with how to answer the CEO’s question. I rattled off all my frustrations. To hit another home run we needed to differentiate our company and our work. And, that I was always turned off by the “home run” question. Why did it have to be a home run? Not every at-bat was a home run, and advancements with the help of teammates were undervalued. Rounding the bases and sliding into home plate was still a run. I understood the excitement of thinking big and knocking something out of the park, but I was also spiraling within my story. My father patiently listened and let me get it all out of my system.
When I had finished, using my analogy of the ballpark, I heard these words, very calmly, over the phone:
“How do you change the game vs. hitting it out of the park? How do you redesign the park? It’s a new game”
It was one of the most brilliant pieces of business advice I’d ever received. Why did I have to play within the confines of the park? It had never occurred to me to reconfigure the playing field. I was always looking for a level playing field. I had accepted the boundaries as they were rather than looking beyond them. I had chosen to operate within a framework that someone else had established, never questioning whether it was fair. I was never curious as to whether the field was advantageous to me, or who wrote the rules.
This was one of my most memorable conversations with my father and I think of him with appreciation and love every time I recall and share the story.
So, I challenge you. What park are you playing in? What are you going to do to change the game?
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