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Coaching Tips

Taking Care of Essentials

Gas prices are causing more than pain in the wallet. They’re putting drivers in danger.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says in the last month, calls from stranded drivers who’ve run out of gas are up 20 percent. That can happen in the fast lane or anywhere else, leaving cars, and the people in them, in danger.

It reminds me of a board game that came out many years ago. It had an outer space theme. I forget most of the details, but one rule has stuck with me for all these years: If you ran out of fuel, you automatically lost.

It’s a profound lesson about paying attention to essentials. There are no gas stations in outer space, and you can’t just pull in for a refill. You have to keep watch over your fuel or else you can die.

Your team or business is just like travel in outer space, in the sense that there are things to which you must pay attention. If you don’t, the consequences can be severe. Call these things fundamentals, or priorities, or necessities. Whatever you call them, you better pay attention.

Years ago, my brother-in-law did maintenance for a supermarket. Most of the time he wasn’t very busy, but he still made a lot of money. That’s because when the refrigeration failed, he had to solve it, and quickly. Otherwise, thousands of dollars’ worth of food would spoil and have to be thrown out. By keeping my brother-in-law on call, the market was paying attention to essentials.

Sports psychologist Dr. Rob Gilbert says, “The most important thing is to make the most important thing the most important thing.”

People don’t always do this. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s just that they get so bogged down by daily tasks that they forget.

To create and sustain a winning culture, you can’t forget. You must identify what is essential, and make sure it gets done. Otherwise, you can find yourself stranded.

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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,” click here.


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