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Deliberate Practice

What Steve Jobs Can Teach Everyone

Steve Jobs famously wore the same outfit every day because he didn’t want to devote any brain power to the choice of clothing.

His reason was simple. Thinking about clothes was simply not important to him. In no way was it a priority.

No matter what your wardrobe looks like, you can use Jobs’ example in your life, whether in coaching, teaching, business, health. Here’s how: Ask yourself what’s really important. Then ask yourself why you don’t do it all the time.

Or even better: Ask yourself what’s really important. Then ask yourself if you’re sure.

Here’s an excerpt from Scott Illiano’s brilliant book, “Our Time: A High School Baseball Coach’s Journey.” He discusses the effort to improve his team’s hitting.

“The New York Yankees had hired tennis pro Sean Brawley to help them improve their drill work. Some of his findings were incredible. First, he asked the Yankee brass to identify the single most important element to being an extraordinary hitter. Nearly every member of the Yankees brass agreed that the element was tracking or seeing the baseball. Miraculously, the then-twenty-six-time world champions had no drills at all to enhance a hitter’s ability to see the baseball. Brawley used his expertise to set one up for them. The split second the hitter would see the ball released from the pitcher’s hand, he would yell ‘pitch.’ The split second rte ball would make contact with the bat he would yell ‘hit.’ It is impossible to do this ‘pitch-hit’ drill without practicing how to track the ball. We did this every day.”

In other words, the greatest pro franchise in North America had identified what it thought was the most important part of hitting, but didn’t have a single drill to practice it.

If that can be true, then how sure can anyone be that they’re doing things right? Or even that they’re doing the right things?

It leads to questions like these: Are baseball teams using the right pre-game activities to prepare for competition? Do they teach hitting and other skills correctly?

Years ago my friend, sports psychologist Dr. Rob Gilbert, and I gave a presentation to the coaching staff of a good college football program. As part of our talk, we challenged the coaches to identify the three most important elements to winning a football game. They couldn’t agree on an answer!

Imagine. Here’s a good program. The coaches are committed enough to bring in guest speakers. Yet they hadn’t identified the areas on which they should focus!

Not Jobs.

It’s said that even in the hospital, he looked at the medical devices with a critical eye, saying that they could be more attractive, more user-friendly, more efficient.

No matter what he did, he was consumed by a search for a better way. He wanted to do things right, and to do the right things. If he were running your team, what flaws and inefficiencies might he see? Now that he’s gone, that work is up to you.

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TotalGamePlan offers Winner’s Workshops for schools, sports teams and businesses. The emphasis is on motivation, skill-building and teamwork. To bring a Winner’s Workshop to your group, just email coachtully@totalgameplan.com or call (973) 800-5836.


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