I used to be a volunteer high school basketball coach for a few years.
We all remember being that age—back when we thought we were on top of the world, especially when it came to sports. So, it’s always really difficult when a high school athlete has to be told, “You’re not going to play today.” For the majority of kids, it’s the first time in their lives that they have to sit out of a game, or at most get very limited playing time. If you’re a freshman or sophomore, there’s almost always going to be someone older that is bigger than you, either on your team or an opposing team.
Any coach wants to get the best out of their players and that should always include the ones that aren't in the game at that moment. That’s why I would make it a point to tell those players, “You aren’t playing, but watch the game and make believe that you are.”
The worst thing someone could do in this situation is just sit there on the bench and pout. Don’t complain and act like you know better than the coach or the other players.
What can you learn even while sitting on the bench? How are you going to prepare yourself to step into a situation without any “in-game” experience?
Watch what your team’s best players are doing on the court. How do they run each play? How familiar are the guys on the floor with the offensive and defensive sets? How is the other team reacting to our plays? What kind of defense are you working against?
These are all things you can find out even while sitting on the bench. Prepare to be prepared.
Moving beyond just high school hoops, you can do the same in business. How can you practice being a higher-level employee? Set mini goals for yourself. Anticipate any scenario you could possibly be put in.
Even further back in my coaching days…we’re in Little League now…I would talk to our team about changing the game by creating a game within the game. For example, being down 10-1 sounds like an insurmountable lead, and the kids playing might get so down on themselves that even they don’t get the in-game experience.
I would tell our team, “Can we score one run this inning? Can we give up zero runs the next inning?” If we are able to do that (and do it consistently), then we are able to look back and see the value of that one run or that zero on the opponent’s box score.
You might have just hit your sales quote for the month, but what can you do to create a game within in a game to give yourself or even your employees more incentive to sell?
Remember, if you prepare to be prepared and play the game within a game, you’re setting yourself up on a path to success.