As another college football season has come to a close, I was reminded yet again of the importance of getting the fundamentals right while watching my beloved Huskers lose ridiculously to South Carolina 30-13 in the Capital One Bowl. We played a dreadfully undisciplined game. It was flat out embarrassing.
You don’t have to be an athlete to understand how important it is to master those “basics”; after all, you don’t build a house without first setting a firm foundation – or that baby doesn’t walk before first starting to crawl.
We must have the basic building blocks down pat before we take on the challenge and pressure of added responsibility in a leadership or professional realm.
As we work our way through these fundamentals, we have time on our side. Practice makes perfect.
But in the “real world” we don’t have the luxury of slow motion. Coaches work on fundamentals with their players, in every sport, so that their technique and response is completely ingrained…..involuntary. If proper form, and technique, and discipline have not become embedded habits, one of three things is bound to happen; 1 – sloppy technique can result in a penalty, 2 – poor form will lead to subpar outcomes, or 3 – somebody is going to get hurt.
Look at it this way: The player on the receiving end of an opposing athlete barreling down at him full-force can’t just yell “Hold it! I’m not ready yet!” He doesn’t have time on his side. Coach better have taught him well the basic fundamentals of blocking and tackling or, one wrong move, and he may be out the entire season with an injury. All this can happen in a split-second if the fundamentals honed over much more than seconds are not mastered.
Off the field, and in the game of everyday life, when you don’t have fundamentals with regard to communication or negotiation down pat, how can you possibly provide a helpful or crisis-diverting response when stress is high? If you are posed a problem with the expectation that you will handle that challenge in the moment, yet you haven’t refined how you process and respond to such challenges, odds are that you could actually make whatever issue that was presented to you worse. A bad outcome is very likely. If you were on the playing field, a flag would be thrown and a penalty called, or a nasty injury would sideline you.
Don’t be sidelined in the office or your career.
Getting the fundamentals down matters – whether you’re in the Capital One Bowl or the C-suite. Don’t wait until you’re in the “big leagues” to think about form. You can’t lay a rock-solid foundation or be a rock-star leader without it.