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Beating the Odds

Thinking Like a Pro

It never fails.

Snow is falling here in Northern New Jersey, only days after the temperature reached the 70s.

That sort of thing happens every March, making it an uncomfortable kind of month. One day it’s spring, the next day it’s winter again. We don’t like these abrupt changes. We prefer consistency. We want to know what to expect from the people and the teams in our life. That’s why, as coaches, we become so upset when our teams underperform. Something about wild swings in performance really offends us.

Pro athletes talk about these wild swings all the time. More precisely, they talk about avoiding them. Spend any time at all in a pro locker room, and you will hear something like this: “I’m just trying to stay consistent. I’m trying to stay on an even keel, and avoid the highs and lows.”

But how? How do top-level athletes — and you — pursue consistency in a universe where surprises abound? You must distinguish between what you can control and what you can’t. For instance, you can control your attitude. You can control your effort. You can control your response to problems.

So if you want to become more consistent as an athlete, coach or boss, be consistent in your approach. You see this in pro athletes all the time. Their entire life is built around rhythms. They do the same things, at the same time, in the same order. They fight through fatigue and boredom, just like you have to. This rhythm and order is designed to foster consistency of approach. The more consistent the approach, the more consistent the result.
Statesman Benjamin Disraeli said, “A consistent soul believes in destiny, a capricious one in chance.”

So be consistent. Remember, you can’t do anything about the wild swings in March weather. But you can do a lot to make sure that people don’t see those same kind of abrupt changes in you.

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Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” go here.


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