I come from a household of baseball players. Growing up in Tampa has a way of immersing a family in America’s favorite pastime. Baseball is everywhere and nearly everyone I knew loved to either watch it or play it. Baseball provided some of my sweetest childhood memories. I also learned many of life’s great lessons out on the field, inning after inning, pitch after pitch. One of the most enduring is captured in this article’s title: What you do in practice you do in the game.
Like all sports, practice is required to improve performance. The more you practice, the better you become. I’ve heard it said that the difference between a professional and an amateur is just five minutes. It simply means where amateurs give up, the professional keeps pushing through, giving it their all just a little longer.
I learned, however, that just practicing wasn’t enough. If at practice I goofed off, had sloppy form, or felt lazy, I would do the same on game day. If I pulled back or slowed down or lost focus while at practice, I was teaching myself to do poorly when it really mattered. In fact, that’s the lesson: It always matters!
This is true whether you are a violinist, mathematician, Olympic diver, songwriter, corporate executive, and yes, even a Christian. Performing with intent creates a character and attitude of success, even in the small moments of life. As we strive with a mindset of continuous improvement, we accomplish great things.
Do Common Things Uncommonly Well
George Washington Carver said it this way: “When you do the common things in an uncommon way, you’ll command the attention of the world.”
This is how Toyota changed the face of the automotive industry. They call it kaizen, the Japanese word for “improvement” or “change for the better”. It is their corporate, worldwide philosophy of continuous process improvement. Dozens of books have been written about this uncommon principle of excellence. Fortune 500 companies scramble to weave this philosophy into their cultural fabric.
And what makes this mindset of continuous improvement foundational to life, (the practice of being excellent in all we do) is how Jesus taught it two thousand years ago to his followers.
In Luke chapter 16, verse 10 Jesus says this: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
In essence, what you do when it doesn’t necessarily count a whole lot (in practice, with very little), you will do when it matters a whole lot more (in the game, with very much).
How to Improve Career Opportunities
This subtle truth has powerful implications especially in the workplace. Whether corporate America or private business, decisions we make in the unremarkable times create the larger story for our own history books. Scandals like Enron’s accounting fraud, Madoff’s ponzi scheme, WorldCom’s debt concealment, and Tyco’s funds embezzlement are well known disgraces based on sheer size of the consequences. And yet each began with a single choice to deceive. At one point in time men were faced with a decision to do the right thing or the wrong thing, to be trustworthy or dishonest.
What we do in practice we do in the game. As we strive to be excellent in the lesser, we create a culture of excellence and character for the greater.
- We build trust as we speak truthfully in all situations
- We foster employee growth as we patiently listen to their concerns
- We enhance team spirit as we show kindness during times of stress
- We nurture an environment of humility as we give credit to others
- We improve enthusiasm as we seek feedback and listen
- We establish integrity as we hold ourselves and others accountable
- We teach compassion as we give generously with our time and money
The call to greatness is achievable for everyone. And as Jesus tells us, it starts with being responsible with the little. Practice greatness in the smallest of details and great things will happen around you.
Shawn Sommerkamp is a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience. He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to bring the power of Christ’s word, as the foundation of career success, into corporate and small business America.