I am a big baseball fan … have been all my life. It is only natural then when coaching employee advancement; I like to use simple analogies of the career advancement of baseball players (ones that you don’t have to be a baseball player or fan to understand).
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Two kinds of ballplayers aren’t worth a damn:
One that never does what he is told …
And one who does nothing except what he’s told.
But wait. Before I tell you about the stories I use in this regard, let me tell you a story about dreams.
Coaching employee advancement
Believe? Do you believe in having dreams? Holding on to them? Here is a story about holding onto dreams that we found on several websites (all listed author unknown). We believe it is an excellent story that illustrates the power of holding onto dreams.
I have a friend named Monty Roberts who owns a horse ranch in California. From time to time he permitted me to use his home for youth at risk fund raising events.
The last event he introduced me by saying:
I want to tell you why I let Jack use my home for this fundraising. It goes back to a story of a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer, who traveled from town to town training horses. As a result, his son’s education was continually interrupted. When he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be when he grew up.
That night he wrote a seven-page paper describing his goal of someday owning a horse ranch. He wrote about his dream in great detail, and he even drew a map of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables, and the track. He also drew a detailed floor plan for a 4000 square foot home that would be located on the ranch.
He put a great deal of his heart into the project and turned in the paper the next day. Two days later he received his paper back. On the front page was a large red F with a note from his teacher that asked him to see him after class.
The student went to the teacher after class as instructed and asked why he had received the failing grade.
The teacher said:
This is an unrealistic dream for someone like you. You have no money. You come from an itinerant, low-income family with few resources. Owning a horse ranch such as this requires a lot of money. There is no way you could ever achieve this dream. Then the teacher told him he would reconsider the grade if the paper were rewritten with a more realistic goal.
The boy went home and thought about what to do next long and hard. He asked father what he should do.
His father said:
Son, you will have to make up your mind on this. It is a very important decision for you.
Finally, after careful thought, the boy turned in the same paper, making NO change. His remark to the teacher was:
You can keep the F, and I’ll keep my dream.
My friend Monty then turned to the assembled group and said:
I tell you this story because you are sitting in 4000 square foot house in the middle of my 200-acre ranch. I still have that school paper framed over the fireplace.
The best part of the story is that two summers ago that same schoolteacher brought 30 kids to camp out on this ranch for a week. When the teacher was leaving, he said: Look, Monty, I can tell you this now. When I was your teacher, I was something of a dream stealer. During those years I stole a lot of kids’ dreams. Fortunately, you had enough gumption not to give on yours.
So I often use that story when coaching staff about holding onto to their dreams.
But let’s get back to baseball and the analogies I use when coaching employee advancement. Here are five stories I use in this regard:
Career advancement strategies … skill jumps
There are many skill jumps necessary for a player to move from little league to high school to college through the minor leagues finally to make it as a major leaguer. Only the very talented few make it all the way. Obviously, each step requires more talent and more success, and many are left behind at each step. It is no different in the business world … with success being the primary measure of talent.
There is always some luck involved regarding openings, their timing, and who is the available competition. Baseball followers can always name a player who got their opportunity when a player in the current line-up went down with an injury. Whether in business or on the ball field, you need to be always prepared to seize your opportunity.
Coaching employee advancement … take a risk
Often ball players need to move to new teams to gain their opportunity, particularly when there is an overabundance of competition where they are currently playing. It is the same in the business world … you have to be prepared to take a risk and make a change.
Pay attention to retention
Great teams always find a way to pay special attention to the development and retention of their best talent just as the best businesses do.
Love what you do
On many occasions players in the minors keep playing though they know they probably will not advance in the minors further … they just love doing what they do. Business people often have to decide how much they love what they do or find other opportunities in new areas.
Many good examples from these stories, don’t you think?
What examples or analogies do you use to coach development or advancement with your staff?
Please share a story or two from your experience vault and join the conversation.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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