ground balls…

October 30th, 2009

Ok, the World Series is upon us, and, as an old fan of the Yankees, having grown up with Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, the stuff that heroes and legends are made of, you might think that ‘ground balls’ references that particular fall classic.  Nope.  Ground balls, is to fly balls, I learned the other day, as slam dunk is to sinking a three-pointer at the buzzer, from the opposite end of the court.

Forget the sports metaphors.  One’s easy.  The other is hard.  What I learned about the beauty of ground balls occurred while playing outside with my nine-month old retriever puppy, who, in the seven months that we’ve been raising him, has not gotten the hang of retrieving, at all.  Until I threw him a ground ball.  And then another.  And another…

Right in front of him, easy to follow, both with his eyes and his nose… consistent, easy success.

Up until that point, I had just been throwing the pup fly balls (out of habit I guess).  Which meant that sometimes he’d find them, other times not.  His ‘success’ rate was 50/50 at best, and, that’s before the retrieving part of the equation.  And, he wasn’t interested in playing ball, retrieving, whatever you want to call it.

And then, ground balls.  Nothing but ground balls.  Success every time.   The pup LOVED playing ball all of a sudden.  Epiphany!  For me anyway. 

 When I coach executives, or train in an organizational setting, I often remind folks of the age-old ‘systems thinking’ approach of KISS… Keep It Successfully Simple!  (ok, the old saying may have been more like Keep it Simple Stupid, but that kind of negative approach just doesn’t fly with me, so let’s punch it up a bit).

Especially when starting a new job, trying new approaches in your old job, on-boarding a new employee, learning new technologies, incorporating new pieces of life challenge, whatever it is that’s taking us outside of our comfort zone, let’s remember to KISS.  

And, what that really means is ‘sucessfully simple’ for whomever it is that’s retrieving the ball.

Let’s make it easy, simple, replicable, fun… successful.

Life’s too short to do it any other way.