Dealing With Distractions To Claim The Prize:
Dec 23, 2010Posted by james

Do you remember the card game “Concentration” from your childhood, or the television version of the same game that first appeared during 1958?

The children’s game matches cards. All cards are laid face down on a surface and two cards are flipped face up during each turn. The object of the game is to turn over pairs of matching cards that lead to solving a puzzle that mixes letters with symbols. The TV adaptation featured a board consisting of three-sided motorized boxes. Numbers appeared on the first of the three sides, prizes for matching and winning were on the second, and the puzzle clues appeared on the third.

Life seemed so simple when we played our childhood games or watched TV contestants solve puzzles. Sometimes we weren’t totally aware that distractions, even of the smallest kind, could change the course of the game, or, for those on TV, that valuable prizes were replaced with the dreaded “parting gifts.”

But distractions do have the potential to alter our ability to remain focused during a game, on a school or business project, during an important conversation, or even while driving. Distractions can create roadblocks to success — if we let them.

Since everything I have learned about life and to achieve success in business has come from playing competitive sports, I offer Tiger Woods as an example of a person who once had exceptional concentration but now continues to suffer from the burden of various distractions.

Since he was a young boy, Tiger’s success was honed from constant analysis of his game that he perfected with rigorous practice. When on the golf course, Tiger blocked out everything that did not pertain to golf. He always remained in the moment, whether driving the ball or sinking a long putt that no one else could ever place in the cup. His game plan and focus led to countless championships, huge financial prizes, worldwide recognition and admiration, and even more rewards as a corporate and brand spokesman.

That all came to a screeching halt the day his car hit the tree. Quickly bogged down in a sand trap that seemed to be composed of quicksand, Tiger’s professional game and image suffered right along with his personal life. Now, more than a year later, with personal issues still a huge part of each day, Tiger has not been able to regain his mastery in the game he once dominated for so many years. Whether or not he has found the proper balance in his personal and family life is an issue that only he can address.

No matter who we are or what we do for a living, distractions always will pop up to grab us and push us off course. A family issue, a souring relationship, financial problems, loosing a client, or even a health matter can hit us on any day at any time. The best response, as many people have shown, is to turn these distractions into positive actions.

By remaining focused on the personal and professional goals that truly matter, each of us can find ways to address distractions and become a returning champion in business and life. A solid strategy will help solve the puzzle. The prizes will be those we value and not just parting gifts.


Say Hey: Willie Mays or Barry Bonds?
Dec 10, 2010Posted by james

During the surprising and exciting season-ending surge by the San Francisco Giants that created a fun ride for the team’s fans through the playoffs and the World Series, I started to think about who should be considered the historical face of the franchise.

For fans over 80, along with many baseball historians, the nod easily could go to Manager John McGraw, pitcher Christy Mathewson, or outfielder and slugger Mel Ott. They helped the Giants dominate the New York baseball scene for decades until they pushed the Yankees out as tenants at the old Polo Grounds. The acquisition of Babe Ruth may also have had something to do with the rise of the Yankee dynasty and the demise of the Giants in New York.

For those of us slightly younger but still over 50, I have found that Willie Mays mostly is considered to be Mr. Giant. One of the best players of his generation (if not the best), Mays is classified as one of the first “five-tool” players. He was able to hit for average, hit with power, run with speed, field his position and throw out runners for most of his career. He was the complete package in Giants cream, black and orange.

Fans under 50, I suspect, might tap Barry Bonds.

Certainly, many fans, especially Giants fans, were crazed about his monster home runs and the breaking of season and career home run records. He dominated the game for more than 10 seasons. Proof of this occurred when a manager intentionally walked Bonds with the bases loaded to force in a run rather than pitch to him and face his damage potential.

But, what was the cost of his success?

Allegations of steroids have tainted him and his career numbers. Ever since he was first marked with the steroid “S”, everything that has been written or reported about him and his statistics have referenced drug enhancement.

While the wild ride that many took with him as he clubbed those record breaking homers may have been enjoyable, it also was a record run that quickly became tarnished along the way. True baseball fans did not want Bonds to break Hank Aaron’s record, and many still question if the career home run record, or any baseball record, really has been broken during the steroid era.

I have always said that the lessons I learned in sports have been the foundation of my business success. Whether in sports, business, or anything else in life, each of us is given the opportunity to choose the path to our desired destination. The one that will be most rewarding personally is the same one that will garner the respect of family, peers and customers. The chosen path may contain many rules on road signs and many road blocks, but the open road also provides many opportunities for hard work that will refine raw talent.

In the long-term, shortcuts never are successful. To reach the Hall of Fame in sports or business, the best philosophy is to build a solid foundation, play by the rules, remain on the honest path to success and always play hard to win.

So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that my selection for the “face” of the Giants franchise, at least for the San Francisco version, is and always will be the Say Hey Kid.