Swing All the Way Through
From time to time, I’ve written about a situation involving one of my kids, and after observing something recently, it’s a huge metaphor for what every one of us does in our busy lives.
Emily plays softball, and it’s easy to see she loves it. Defensively, her glove meets the ball hit at nearly any angle in the outfield and she can come up with some great catches. Offensively, she’s fast. She’s a lefty and was taught to slap last year, so has added some nice things to her hitting repertoire. She’s somewhat short and is solid. Because of this, opposing teams don’t see her speed until they’ve just picked up the ball and she’s already at first base. It’s a fun thing to watch.
The past couple of weeks, she’s struggled with her hitting. The first good pitch gets fouled hard to the left side fence. So does the second. Then she jams up, gets nervous, and has been striking out. I see the quick motion and ball smashing into the fence. Her coach sees that she’s not swinging through, and is putting herself into her own tough situation. Every player knows they’re supposed to swing through, but it takes drills and repetition in many cases to make this action second-nature. It seems so obvious, but it takes someone else to call out the issue and help the player get things on track.
As professionals (outside of the sports arena), we are sometimes guilty of not swinging through. It could rob us of a better opportunity personally. Other times we’re letting our entire team down (our customers, our colleagues, our business partners, our families). It’s something that we all know how to do—and all feel we should do—but we can get caught in the habit of not doing so, and it can hold us back from better things.
Follow through. This is more than going through the motions when we offer to provide a quote, answer a question or help with a project. Verify that the information or assistance was helpful. Is more needed? Is more wanted, but not being verbalized? By asking a few more questions, at the very least you’re showing you are interested and care, which solidifies you as a future go-to. More likely, you’ll draw out another need that could result in more business and a stronger relationship.
Learn from “no.” This goes beyond the adage to “never take ‘no’ for an answer”. Everyone gets the door slammed in their face, regardless of whether or not they think they’re in sales. We lose orders, lose opportunities, lose promotions, lose current or prospective team members—you get the gist. Sometimes we can turn things around quickly and make a positive outcome. If we’re limited in what we can do now, we can learn from the experience by asking ourselves (and others involved) a few questions. What could we have done differently to create a better outcome? Nothing is totally beyond our control – sometimes we need to take other steps to create a different situation for the future. The more we understand this, the more impact we can have.
Have fun up there. Why is it that so many people are simply better when they’re at ease? Practice creates confidence. Being too relaxed can work against you, but having that perfect mixture of comfort and adrenaline lends itself toward hitting those home runs.