Keep Your Eye On The Ball

I was reading where Wayne Gretzky claimed he was successful because he skated to where he thought the puck would be, not where it was. In warfare, people firing at planes from the ground were taught to “lead” the plane and fire ahead of its path. Quarterbacks throw the ball so as to “lead” the receiver in many cases.

I had Bentley out for his daily fetch practice, and I decided to try something new. I noticed that he began to run as soon as I cocked my arm, assuming the direction given my stance, and expecting to pick up the path of the ball when it bounced ahead of him. If I threw in a different direction, he couldn’t immediately tell, and had to slam on the breaks when nothing appeared in front of him.

However, if I threw it up in the air so that it bounced BEHIND him, he wouldn’t hear it on the grass, and also had to stop when nothing appeared ahead of him.

Now, I’m not here to argue with Gretzky, Tom Brady, or anyone trying to shoot at me, but I will share this observation: Too often we assume the flight of the ball. The trajectory isn’t always perfect. A rock can create a bad bounce, another person can choose a different turn unexpectedly, winds and debris can interfere. (I once saw a baseball hit a flying pigeon in the outfield and fall to the ground as a hit. The pigeon’s own trajectory was fatally interrupted by an event it couldn’t anticipate.)

We often assume a future probability incorrectly, because we’re distrait, not paying attention, preoccupied. The flight of the ball—the client, prospect, objective, goal, intention—isn’t always pure and perfect. We have to pay attention.

Gretzky and Brady are huge exceptions, which is why they stand out. Bentley has begun looking up. We can all learn.

© Alan Weiss 2013

4 thoughts on “Keep Your Eye On The Ball

  1. I was jolted to realize how often when I throw the ball (make a phone call/send a proposal) I expect the recipient to behave in a specific manner based on my throw–and then I’m not prepared to adjust when he/she does not do what I expected.

  2. Nice insight. You need to think “three-dimensionally” in terms of what the total plausible reactions are, and prepare for each.

  3. I always “Pickup” the telephone and call my customer. Just 3 minutes on the phone tells me if they are happy or not. I can NOT get that read from an email.
    As the ad says… “Great cheese comes from Happy Cows & Happy Cows come from California.” Sometimes the ball goes a different direction then I had anticipated.
    Carl Slicer
    Vernon, Conn.

    PS: Alan Thank you for the great work you put out everyday. It’s appreciated.

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