I just returned refreshed from a summer vacation on the beautiful island of Hilton Head, SC. Our favorite time on the Island is participating in tennis clinics and learning more about the game our family loves so much. On the first day of the clinic, Job (pronounced Yo-b) my coach from the Netherlands, stressed how important it was to learn to hit the ball in your “target zone” which is the sweet spot where you strike the ball the best. Everyone has their own unique target zone, and I know when I hit the ball in my zone because I hit it with authority and with accurate placement. It is the moment when I look and feel like a tennis player.
Truthfully, my real concern was that I was hitting my target zone much less frequently than either my wife or young daughters! Then Job explained to me that to regularly hit the zone you had to care enough to move your feet and your body to put yourself in position to strike the ball in your zone. You must move your feet to hit the ball in the strike zone. I heard him, but I’m not sure I liked his message. This was going to take effort and require mental and physical discipline! I knew I could play tennis well enough to hit balls without moving my feet, but if I really wanted to be a better tennis player I was going to have to care enough to change my old habits and put myself in better position to hit the ball successfully.
Old tennis habits die hard at my age. Job’s tennis clinic helped me realize how to become a better tennis player, but it also taught me an important lesson about what it takes to become a better leader, spouse and father.
If I want to become more effective, I have to learn to change my stance, or “move my feet” in relation to others. I am responsible for making the adjustments to my game and not wait for the ball to come to me. In the same way, I am going to have to change who I am in relation to the people I serve. I can’t expect people I lead to change their behavior without me changing first. I need to be the change I want to see in others. If I intend on becoming a better tennis player, spouse or leader in my organization, I need to care enough to begin making an effort to become more effective. The real lesson is you have to care enough about changing you–who you are and what you are doing. If you intend on improving how you grow in leading and developing others, “move your feet” in the direction of change.