Respect The Game

Nick on the Baseball FieldMy son Nick is seven years old and he loves baseball. We recently enrolled him in a program designed to teach “baseball beginners” how to play the game the right way.

A former professional baseball player runs the program and the curriculum is thorough.   The kids who participate learn how to hit, throw, field and run the bases. They also learn something far more valuable than any of those things. The coach taught them the three rules of success in any sport. Respect yourself. Respect the people around you. Respect the game.

Respecting the game means acting like a professional at all times while you are on the baseball field. To the kids it means following the rules, paying attention to what is happening around them, taking care of the equipment, and always giving their best effort.

As kids, we learn the basics of any game and we work toward competence and (hopefully) mastery. As adults, we get so caught up in our day-to-day activity we forget about “respect for the game” of business.

Let me give you some examples:

Gentleman Number Three and His Phone

Last week I was at lunch with three successful business people. I’ve known these folks for a while and two of them I see at least once each week. The third gentleman I had not seen in some time. From the moment we sat down, gentleman number three was on his mobile phone. He was texting, checking and sending email, and a few times when I glanced over, I saw him checking Facebook.

This guy came to lunch to sit at a table with three people and, basically be by himself.

Here’s the interesting part: One of the other guys said to me after lunch: “You know, I had a referral for gentleman number three but he couldn’t pay attention to me long enough for me to share it with him.”

If you’re not “in the moment,” if you can’t show courtesy to others when in their presence, if you don’t have enough common sense to put your phone in your pocket, you don’t respect the game.

Winging It Is Never A Good Strategy

I’m a member of a local business group that meets each week at a restaurant on Miami Beach. Although 90% of my business is done with people outside the state of Florida, I remain a member of this group for many reasons. One of the most important reasons I attend this meeting each week is to keep me sharp. Attending forces me to prepare.

Whenever you go to a meeting you should have an objective. You should think about what you want to accomplish and you should aggressively pursue that goal. I volunteer to prepare and deliver a brief educational topic each week at this meeting. This forces preparation on me.

Each of the attendees at the meeting has an opportunity to present their business and ask for a referral. Some people give this a great deal of thought and others “just wing it” meaning they think of something to say when they enter the room.

Being prepared always leads to a better outcome. Lack of preparation is indicative of a lack of professionalism. Whenever you enter a room for a meeting, you should have an objective in mind and you should be ready to discuss the topics on the agenda. Figuring it out as you go indicates a lack of respect for yourself and the others in attendance. Preparation is an important way to show you respect the game.

Feeling You Is Different Than Knowing You

The persona of the ruthless businessperson is dead. The myth that every successful business leader is a caricature of Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street is just not true. In fact, for every person who becomes successful by being bombastic and crass in a Donald Trump way, there are hundreds of successful business leaders who take a different approach. They lead with empathy.

Emotions motivate people.

You must understand how a person feels before you can help him or influence him. Taking time to find the feeling behind the words is important because it will help you tailor your approach. This is called empathy and it doesn’t mean you change your mind and “go soft.” It means you approach people and speak with them with their feelings at the forefront of the interaction.

Being a steamroller and flattening someone doesn’t show how tough you are. It shows how selfish you are. Selfish people by nature do not respect others.

If we were still kids and we were heading out to the baseball field, at the forefront of our mind would be respect for the game. While we don’t put on our cap and pull up our socks to our knees, we do suit up each day. We come “off the bench” and enter the business playing field. As adults we play with little supervision.

The strength of our character shows in how we handle ourselves. Not much has changed since we first took to the field. If you want to be successful remember three things: Respect yourself. Respect the people around you. Respect the game.

Here Are Some Other Resources You Can Use To Improve Your Game

Business Success Secret Revealed at Thanksgiving Dinner

Last year we invited a successful entrepreneur to Thanksgiving dinner.  He gave us a lesson on business strategy that we will never forget.  I share that lesson in this article.

Only Three Ways to Grow

Most business leaders make growth overly complicated.  There are only three ways to grow any business.  This article is focused on helping lawyers with their growth but it is valuable for all business leaders.

Lifetime Value Principle

This video helps bring into focus a holistic approach to your relationship with your client.  Thinking about how valuable the client is, during the entire lifetime of your interaction with him, will remind you to focus on the big picture.

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