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Beating the Odds

What the Mars Mission Means to Your Team

With the Schiaparelli lander probe to Mars scheduled to execute critical maneuvers in the next couple of days, a story about the 1962 New York Mets comes to mind.

Marv Throneberry of that famously bad squad hit the ball a long way and wound up on third base. But he didn’t stay there very long. He was called out for missing second base. When Mets Manager Casey Stengel came out to argue the call, one of his coaches told him, “Don’t bother to argue. He missed first base, too.”

New York lost the game 8-7, the margin being the bases that Throneberry failed to touch.

The moral of the story: Sweat the details. They matter, whether on Earth or on Mars. This comes to mind because nearly two decades ago, NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because a Lockheed Martin engineering team used English units of measurement while the agency’s team used the more conventional metric system for a key spacecraft operation.

What a shame to get the hard stuff right but fail because of something that should have been easy.

Legendary football coach Bill Walsh preached the pursuit of perfection while winning championships with the San Francisco 49ers. In his book, “The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership,” Walsh lays out his standards. Quarterback Joe Montana writes in the Foreward,” “Bill got all of us striving to be perfect in games and in practice.”

Teams have lost games because they didn’t have the correct numbers of players on the field. Golfers have lost because of too many clubs in the bag. And one space mission failed because of a simple communication error.

So if you’re leading a team of any kind, and truly want success, take Montana’s words and get your people “striving to be perfect in games and in practice.”

If you do, as Walsh says, the score takes care of itself.

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Thank you for visiting Total Game Plan. If your team, group or business needs a motivational speaker, please email coachtully @ totalgameplan.com. Here are some other resources for your success:

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To get better at anything, check out “The Improvement Factor: How Winners Turn Practice into Success.”

Do you coach females? Are you a female athlete, or the parent of one? Here’s “Was It Something I Said? A Guide to Coaching Female Athletes” by Vanessa Sullivan and Mike Tully

Need some motivation? Everyone needs it now and then. Open any page of “Thank God You’re Lazy! The Instant Cure for What’s Holding You Back” by Dr. Rob Gilbert and Mike Tully.

Are you a teacher, boss or sports coach? Here’s “Ten Things Great Coaches Know” by Mike Tully and Gary Pritchard.

Want to have your best basketball season ever? Here’s “Basketball: What Great Players Know that You Don’t Know,” by Mike Tully and Gio Grassi.


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