I was raised on Ohio State Football. My dad was a “water boy" for the team before he graduated and signed up for active duty in WWII. I grew up hearing his stories, and listening to Ohio State games on the radio. My mom and sister left the house because talking was not an option during those ten Autumn Saturdays.
I stayed home and listened to every down, and learned every grid iron hero from Rex Kern to Archie Griffen.
I also learned Woody Hayes mantra: we're going to run, you have to stop us. For those of you outside of Ohio, football was simple to Woody. Score more points than the competition, score them on the ground.
Fast forward three decades. Still a football fan, I was listening to sports radio one recent Sunday morning. One expert was bemoaning the glory days of three yards and a cloud of dust: coaches are making the game too complicated he contended.
So I began to think about the game. Years ago Dick Vermeil left the game when his 20 hour days became his norm. Jimmy Johnston came and went, Bill Parcells hyperventilated under a raincoat he was too superstitious to remove. As a Cleveland Brown's fan, I remember Bill Belichick and his lack of humor pre Patriot-gate. When did a game become a grind?
Coaches watch game tape and strategize ad nauseum. How much game tape can a coach watch? Former NBA coach Lenny Wilkens said he only watched a game tape twice. Any more times than that and he said he would hate his players!
How many game day strategies can you create to move one ball down the same sized field? Hour upon hour upon hour spent talking about moving that ball three yards and a cloud of dust.
Ohio State has often been #1 in the college ratings. Their strategy is pretty simple: Do a few things well. You figure out how to stop us.
Now apply these two diverse strategies to your business. Do you make it simple? Do you do a few things well?
Or do you spend too much time strategizing and figuratively watching game tape, rehashing losses and disappointments until you hate your team players and maybe yourself?
Teams that win, in any arena, do a few things really, really well. They go deep in a few areas.
I talked with the president at Kent State University when he was in his first months on the job. Dr. Lester Lefton was in the listening mode. He had been listening to students, faculty, alumni, his barber, and anyone else who had an opinion. Then he says, will come, the difficult decisions. He says you cannot be successful in the 21st century if you are an inch thick and a mile wide.
In other words, in my words, they will have to go deep.
Academia and football may look very different from the outside. Each has something in common with your business. You have to go deep in a few areas to stand out. Sure you have to do everything well. But in what areas can you go deep?
A first year quarterback made a fatal error. He spent the few precious moments he had before releasing the ball, looking at his own receivers and where they were running. He should have known where they would be. He needed to be looking at the other teams players and where they were going to be when he aimed down the field.
Do you take your eye off the ball?
What can we learn from Saturdays or Sundays in the Fall?
We can learn:
Keep it simple.
Keep it a game not a grind.
How deep is your ocean?
Leslie G. Ungar, president of Electric Impulse Communications, Inc. , is a communication expert.
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