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Relearning the Fundamentals

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Sports, Wisdom Leading

Ah spring, a time when fly balls and pickoff throws fill the air! In Florida and Arizona, Major League Baseball clubs are going through the motions of spring training. Players are working on their batting eyes, limbering up their pitching arms, and repeating drills until their hands bleed, all with an eye to being ready for Opening Day. But why? Does anybody really believe these athletes need a refresher course year after year? After all, they work out year-round with personal trainers. They have video and computer swing analysis and advanced pitching metrics like WHIP, whatever that is. Are you going to tell me that, other than young kids trying to make the big club and old timers trying to hang on, that these guys need to spend six weeks in Scottsdale? So what's the reason for spring training? In part, I think it's to remind everyone that baseball is hard. Hitting a 95 mph fastball is the hardest task in sports, and throwing one is the runner-up. Spring training is, in part, about humility. A reminder that greatness is rare and that if we can do things that others can't, that's cause for gratitude, not boastfulness. In any organization, people are subject to complacency and resting on laurels. It's healthy, once in a while, to get a reminder that succeeding once is no guarantee that you'll succeed again. Staying on top means recognizing that the work of getting better never ends. What do you do to encourage humility in your people?

Ah spring, a time when fly balls and pickoff throws fill the air! In Florida and Arizona, Major League Baseball clubs are going through the motions of spring training. Players are working on their batting eyes, limbering up their pitching arms, and repeating drills until their hands bleed, all with an eye to being ready for Opening Day.

But why? Does anybody really believe these athletes need a refresher course year after year? After all, they work out year-round with personal trainers. They have video and computer swing analysis and advanced pitching metrics like WHIP, whatever that is. Are you going to tell me that, other than young kids trying to make the big club and old timers trying to hang on, that these guys need to spend six weeks in Scottsdale?

So what's the reason for spring training? In part, I think it's to remind everyone that baseball is hard. Hitting a 95 mph fastball is the hardest task in sports, and throwing one is the runner-up. Spring training is, in part, about humility. A reminder that greatness is rare and that if we can do things that others can't, that's cause for gratitude, not boastfulness.

In any organization, people are subject to complacency and resting on laurels. It's healthy, once in a while, to get a reminder that succeeding once is no guarantee that you'll succeed again. Staying on top means recognizing that the work of getting better never ends.

What do you do to encourage humility in your people?

3.18.13 0
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Mud Bowl

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Sports, Wisdom Leading

Were you one of the 50 million Americans who watched the Super Bowl? It's a great spectacle, and has become an important American ritual where the hoopla often outshines the game. When I watch football today, I can't help thinking that the game is more fun when it's messier. Football is at its primal, grunting best when it's played either in the ice and snow of a place like Green Bay, or in the mud, not on perfectly lined fields of synthetic turf in a domed structure with larger-than-life bigscreens. Ever play in, or witness a Mud Bowl... maybe on a rainy weekend or in the afternoons before Thanksgiving dinner? A bunch of people, shivering like nitwits in the pouring rain, mucking through fields turned ankle-deep swamps, and diving for passes and belly-sliding ten yards. Everybody winds up filthy, soaked, starving and exhausted. It's awesome. In the wake of the Big Game, I can't help thinking that maybe in our everyday teams it should occasionally be more like the Mud Bowl and less like the neat and orderly San Francisco 49ers offense. Maybe sometimes the work we do, and the teams with whom we do it should be messier, more chaotic and celebratory. There are times to run a tight ship, but there are also times to do a cannonball into the water and invite everyone else to do the same. From no-rules brainstorming sessions to heartfelt check-ins to problem-solving games, it's the counterintuitive that keeps us fresh, energized and coming up with satisfying surprises. What are you doing to encourage your teammates to get messy?

Were you one of the 50 million Americans who watched the Super Bowl? It's a great spectacle, and has become an important American ritual where the hoopla often outshines the game.

When I watch football today, I can't help thinking that the game is more fun when it's messier. Football is at its primal, grunting best when it's played either in the ice and snow of a place like Green Bay, or in the mud, not on perfectly lined fields of synthetic turf in a domed structure with larger-than-life bigscreens.

Ever play in, or witness a Mud Bowl... maybe on a rainy weekend or in the afternoons before Thanksgiving dinner? A bunch of people, shivering like nitwits in the pouring rain, mucking through fields turned ankle-deep swamps, and diving for passes and belly-sliding ten yards. Everybody winds up filthy, soaked, starving and exhausted.

It's awesome.

In the wake of the Big Game, I can't help thinking that maybe in our everyday teams it should occasionally be more like the Mud Bowl and less like the neat and orderly San Francisco 49ers offense. Maybe sometimes the work we do, and the teams with whom we do it should be messier, more chaotic and celebratory. There are times to run a tight ship, but there are also times to do a cannonball into the water and invite everyone else to do the same. From no-rules brainstorming sessions to heartfelt check-ins to problem-solving games, it's the counterintuitive that keeps us fresh, energized and coming up with satisfying surprises.

What are you doing to encourage your teammates to get messy?

2.4.13 0
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Singing the Powerball Blues: When $579 Million Isn't Enough

Dr. Foster Mobley // Sports, Wisdom Leading

Last week two ticket buyers, in Missouri and in Arizona, hit the biggest Powerball lottery jackpot ever, $579 million. That got me thinking about the often-negative effect that sudden wealth has on people's lives. University researchers have determined that people who win larger jackpots are more likely to wind up bankrupt than those who win small ones. And recent history is filled with accounts of lottery winners winding up in poverty, in prison, or committing suicide. You may have heard me say that winning makes people forgetful and stupid; apparently money has the same effect. Coming into sudden, unearned wealth appears to make some people abandon their core values. Let's say that you're a construction worker-hard-working, respected and dependable. Then, ZAP-a $100 million lightning bolt. Are you suddenly a financial planner, tax lawyer and international playboy? No. But if you try to act like you are, you're probably going to wind up in trouble. When success comes, it's more important-not less-that we stick to the essential qualities that define who we are, independent of that success. That's the only way to ensure that success will come around again. Are you grounded enough in who you are and what you stand for to declare your core essence "Not for Sale"?

Last week two ticket buyers, in Missouri and in Arizona, hit the biggest Powerball lottery jackpot ever, $579 million. That got me thinking about the often-negative effect that sudden wealth has on people's lives. University researchers have determined that people who win larger jackpots are more likely to wind up bankrupt than those who win small ones. And recent history is filled with accounts of lottery winners winding up in poverty, in prison, or committing suicide.

You may have heard me say that winning makes people forgetful and stupid; apparently money has the same effect. Coming into sudden, unearned wealth appears to make some people abandon their core values. Let's say that you're a construction worker-hard-working, respected and dependable. Then, ZAP-a $100 million lightning bolt. Are you suddenly a financial planner, tax lawyer and international playboy? No. But if you try to act like you are, you're probably going to wind up in trouble.

When success comes, it's more important-not less-that we stick to the essential qualities that define who we are, independent of that success. That's the only way to ensure that success will come around again.

Are you grounded enough in who you are and what you stand for to declare your core essence "Not for Sale"?

12.3.12 0
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"Miracle on Ice"

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Sports, Wisdom Leading

Q: How are you causing "miracles" to happen? Do you remember watching the 1980 U.S.A.-Soviet hockey showdown, and hearing the enduring question, "Do you believe in miracles?" The Americans had a team of untested college kids, and the Soviets had a team of hardened veterans at the peak of their careers. The young Americans upset the champion Soviets, in what many called a "miracle on ice." What looked like a "miracle" was actually the result of a strategy engineered by U.S.A. Coach Brooks to capitalize on the Soviets' weaknesses, and build on the Americans' strengths. In business, "miracles" seem to happen all the time, but they're almost always the result of careful planning toward a specific goal. These "miracles" are often successes against near-impossible odds - the start-up against an industry leader, the rookie goalie against the veteran power forward. These successes look both incredible and effortless to outsiders, but insiders know the intellectual blood, sweat and tears that went into the achievement.

Q: How are you causing "miracles" to happen?

Do you remember watching the 1980 U.S.A.-Soviet hockey showdown, and hearing the enduring question, "Do you believe in miracles?"
 
The Americans had a team of untested college kids, and the Soviets had a team of hardened veterans at the peak of their careers. The young Americans upset the champion Soviets, in what many called a "miracle on ice." What looked like a "miracle" was actually the result of a strategy engineered by U.S.A. Coach Brooks to capitalize on the Soviets' weaknesses, and build on the Americans' strengths.
 
In business, "miracles" seem to happen all the time, but they're almost always the result of careful planning toward a specific goal. These "miracles" are often successes against near-impossible odds - the start-up against an industry leader, the rookie goalie against the veteran power forward. These successes look both incredible and effortless to outsiders, but insiders know the intellectual blood, sweat and tears that went into the achievement.

3.5.12 0
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Working From a Higher Purpose

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Sports, Wisdom Leading

Q: What becomes possible when you connect to the real reasons you do what you do? Leading to me means expanding the capacity of ourselves and others to create breakthrough results. To do that fully we engage in four areas: heads, hands, heart and spirit. The spirit part is often missed or misunderstood. It's the reason we do what we do. When we leave the spirit out of what we do, we leave the reason for doing it out as well. The FIFA 2011 Women's World Cup Soccer Final between the United States and Japan provided a wonderful example. Throughout the tournament we saw plenty of instances of athletes using their heads (strategy and decision-making), hands (tactics and execution), and hearts (teamwork and connectedness). But the Japanese squad, playing for something larger than themselves, a nation recently ravaged by a tsunami, nuclear meltdown and economic disaster, displayed their true spirit in the final minutes that seemed to elevate their play...all the way to the World Cup title.

Q: What becomes possible when you connect to the real reasons you do what you do?

Leading to me means expanding the capacity of ourselves and others to create breakthrough results. To do that fully we engage in four areas: heads, hands, heart and spirit.

The spirit part is often missed or misunderstood. It's the reason we do what we do. When we leave the spirit out of what we do, we leave the reason for doing it out as well.

The FIFA 2011 Women's World Cup Soccer Final between the United States and Japan provided a wonderful example. Throughout the tournament we saw plenty of instances of athletes using their heads (strategy and decision-making), hands (tactics and execution), and hearts (teamwork and connectedness). But the Japanese squad, playing for something larger than themselves, a nation recently ravaged by a tsunami, nuclear meltdown and economic disaster, displayed their true spirit in the final minutes that seemed to elevate their play...all the way to the World Cup title.

 

1.9.12 0
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And the Walls Fall Down

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Education, History, Quotables, Sports, Wisdom Leading

Q: What about you are you both afraid and eager for others to know? Theologian and philosopher C.S. Lewis once said that our greatest fear and our greatest desire is to be known. To really be known we must break down the walls separating our "outside" selves and our "inside" selves. So, what would that look like? Well, it might look something like Roberto Benigni on Oscar night in 1998. Benigni won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Life Is Beautiful. When his name was called, Roberto's walls fell away: he jumped on seats, shook strangers' hands, hopped up the stairs like a little boy and, in heavily accented English, spoke profusely about joy and gratitude. Everyone watching him immediately knew Roberto Benigni inside and out. Letting our walls fall away to be truly known can be scary. But, the less we hold our true selves back the better others can know us and the better we can know ourselves. And, we get even closer to real breakthough leading. (Want to see falling walls for yourself? Watch here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cTR6fk8frs)
Q: What about you are you both afraid and eager for others to know?

Theologian and philosopher C.S. Lewis once said that our greatest fear and our greatest desire is to be known.  To really be known we must break down the walls separating our "outside" selves and our "inside" selves.  So, what would that look like?
 
Well, it might look something like Roberto Benigni on Oscar night in 1998.  Benigni won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Life Is Beautiful.  When his name was called, Roberto's walls fell away: he jumped on seats, shook strangers' hands, hopped up the stairs like a little boy and, in heavily accented English, spoke profusely about joy and gratitude.  Everyone watching him immediately knew Roberto Benigni inside and out.
 
Letting our walls fall away to be truly known can be scary.  But, the less we hold our true selves back the better others can know us and the better we can know ourselves.  And, we get even closer to real breakthough leading.
 
(Want to see falling walls for yourself?  Watch here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cTR6fk8frs)

12.26.11 0
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Being on the Cutting Edge Isn't Enough

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Education, Quotables, Sports, Wisdom Leading

Q: Is your wisdom helping you wield your cutting edge? Are knives good or bad? "Well," you may think, "that depends on who's using them." Indeed. A scalpel in the hand of a skilled surgeon is a wonder to behold. However, in the hands of a fool it is a colossal danger. We can think of the scalpel as representing intelligence. Made of our education, our skills, and even our talent, intelligence is a great competency to have. But, intelligence without wisdom can be dangerous. Your success is certainly due, in part, to your intelligence. But, we must seek to increase our wisdom as well. Knowing how to wield our intelligence makes it a truly useful tool, not a destructive one.

Q: Is your wisdom helping you wield your cutting edge?

Are knives good or bad?  
 
"Well," you may think, "that depends on who's using them."  Indeed.  A scalpel in the hand of a skilled surgeon is a wonder to behold.  However, in the hands of a fool it is a colossal danger.   
 
We can think of the scalpel as representing intelligence.  Made of our education, our skills, and even our talent, intelligence is a great competency to have.  But, intelligence without wisdom can be dangerous.  Your success is certainly due, in part, to your intelligence.  But, we must seek to increase our wisdom as well.  Knowing how to wield our intelligence makes it a truly useful tool, not a destructive one.
 

11.21.11 1
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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams