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November 19, 2018
Who is your Kevin McHale?
“Fortune Favors the Bold” – Bohemian Rhapsody
On one of my best days in 2018, I was boarding my flight when I looked up and saw Kevin McHale sitting in seat 2A. Without even thinking I blurted out, “Kevin! Wow, hello!” like he was my best high school buddy, reaching my hand across the person in 2B all but elbowing them. I love those moments – when at 50 years old I’m suddenly transformed into my 14-year-old self. From my perspective, Kevin was THE power forward in 1982, playing for the Boston Celtics team that had just won the ‘81 NBA championship. I remember studying his moves: baby hook, turnaround jumper, but it was the drop step from the low post that he perfected.
On that day, Kevin graciously shook my hand and I took my seat in 19B. Being the ever-persistent fan, I walked with Kevin from the gate to the baggage claim area. I thanked him for teaching me the drop step, which had allowed me to start as power forward for the St Patrick’s 8th-grade team. Our team went 35 and 3 that year, letting Kevin know he had played a key role in that was very cool.
In 1982, at 14 years old, all I knew was that I wanted to improve my basketball game. The best self-directed step seemed to be watching and adopting the techniques of the best NBA player who played my position. Little did I realize that this was my first attempt at using a Gap Analysis Continuous Improvement Process.
Here are the steps to that process:
Envision your goal. For example, to become the top sales professional or top general manager in the industry.
Find a role model. Study the industry’s top professionals to find your Kevin McHale and make a list of everything he or she does. Notice I said the industry’s top professionals, not your company’s. Aside from the relatively restricted range of talent that you will find within one company, you will also limit your exposure to new ideas and approaches. An individual company’s practices are subject to historical biases and outdated customs that are likely begging for a fresh perspective.
Create a list of questions. These should be aimed at learning about this top professional’s path, both his successes and failures. Be comprehensive with your questions, we will sort and prioritize later. Be confident, professionals at the top of their game will be open and willing to help.
Your list of questions should be thorough:
- What steps do you take developing your sense of purpose?
- How do you spend your free time?
- How do you handle stress?
- How do you recharge your batteries?
- How do you maintain your level of energy?
- What methods do you use to stay positive?
- Who do you go to when you need objective feedback and increased self-awareness?
- What is your diet?
- What is your workout regimen?
- How do you manage your work/life balance?
- How do you set goals?
- What are the 3 biggest mistakes you’ve made in your career?
- What is your process for managing your ego?
- What are your favorite creative sources?
- How much time do you dedicate to personal development per week and what do you do?
- What is your process for staying organized?
- How did you develop your financial discipline?
- What spurs your curiosity?
Now, take that list of questions and give it to 5 people who know you well and care about you enough to be brutally honest. What are the gaps between you and your Kevin McHale? Break the list into the following 4 categories: low effort-low impact, low effort-high impact, high effort-low impact, high effort-high impact.
Carefully write down the high effort-low impact and low effort-low impact items and throw them away.
If you are fortunate enough to have low effort-high impact items on the list, pursue them.
High effort-high impact areas are where the rubber meets the road. As humans, we are inherently emotional beings prone to undervalue the high impact-high effort items in order to protect our egos. This is the same reason I choose to shoot free throws every time I’m at the gym. As an 87% free throw shooter in high school, my ego loves the free throw line – off-handed ball handling and shooting… not so much.
What is the one thing from the high effort-high impact list that will bring about the greatest evolution and advancement toward your goal? Concentrate your efforts on this “One Thing”. Set a reasonable timeline to learn, practice and implement these changes. Stay focused until you can apply the new methods consistently when under pressure.
What is the value of a professional coach?
- To help you recognize the high impact-high efforts areas.
- To help you understand that what your brain perceives as Mt. Everest is emotional fiction, the reality is a countryside rolling hill.
- To force you to work on the highest impact area of your game, which typically requires the greatest emotional resiliency.
My daughter Madalena will be graduating from UW Madison this spring. Looking back and comparing pictures of her as an incoming freshman to a graduating senior I am in awe… such phenomenal growth. Why in the hell should accelerated growth be exclusive to the young?
With every breath keep growing! – Tony
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