Adjust Yourself!

“”There has always been a saying in baseball that you can’t make a hitter, but I think you can improve a hitter.”

—Ted Williams

Baseball players adjust themselves. You may notice this if you take in a game this opening day weekend at the ballpark. Observe the players closely and watch as they step into the batter’s box. They constantly adjust themselves.

photo courtesy of Maren Miller

No, I am not referring to the kind of adjustments that disturb your sister. I’m talking about a host of mechanical adjustments, in their basic skill sets, whether they are on the field or at the plate.

A baseball hitter has over a hundred different tasks he can work on during any given pre game routine. From pitch selection, to bat grip, to placement of the feet, the twist of the hips, and the extension of the bat, there are a host of tasks that need constant attention when attempting to hit a tiny white ball, that’s moving quickly toward you, with a stick. And often, those skills necessary to accomplish one of the hardest tasks in sports, is often in need of adjustments. Hitting is a series of natural athletic talents, combined with hours and hours of preparation, training, and constant fine-tuning.

When coaching my youth baseball players, with various skill sets, our coaching staff will constantly ask players to “feel” what they are doing in either their, throwing, catching, hitting, or running mechanics. And rather than constantly overwhelm them with feedback on what they could be doing better, which can be overwhelming to any ball player, especially young ones, we often ask them to assess themselves.

“What did you feel with that swing?”

“I felt my shoulder dip on that swing,” they respond. photo courtesy of Maren Miller

“What adjustment can you make?”

“I need to keep my back shoulder up, and drive through the ball,” they respond with a solution. They are now taking ownership in.

They’ve just made an adjustment!

Eventually, the really good players, start to feel what they are doing wrong as a result of committing the proper mechanics to muscle memory. On their own, they begin to understand what they could be doing better mechanically, and begin to make adjustments. They begin to coach themselves and often separate themselves from the players who are not making adjustments on their own.

At work, we can be given a project that has a task made up of a hundred different skills that we could improve on in any given day—operating a software, writing a proposal, making a sales pitch, or assessing a budget. The fact is, like baseball, the workplace is full of personal learning opportunities for us as individuals.

The more we are aware of our strengths and weaknesses on a given task or skill, the more we are able to diagnosis what adjustments we need to make on our own in order to accomplish a task at a higher level of excellence. In essence, we are learning to coach ourselves if we have the knowledge, and a clear picture of what a good job looks like on that given task. When we get to this level as individual contributors within an organization, we are ready to perform at an All Star level.

So go ahead, look at the tasks you are working on today, and ask yourself, what can I do better? Then go ahead and do it—adjust yourself! You’ll feel better, and you’re sister won’t think you’re weird.

Jason Diamond Arnold
Co-Author of Situational Self Leadership in Action
The Ken Blanchard Companies

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