Can you go left?

I’m sitting here watching my son at his second basketball practice with this new club.  He’s a 3rd grader.  8 years old.  He’s the youngest kid on the court – by far.  There’s a huge difference in the physical development, skill level, and maturity (ok, maybe not maturity) between an 8 year old and a 10 or 11 year old.  It’s a 3 month club team that will compete with other 8-10 year old teams.  I think playing with guys who are better than him (and more importantly with a HS varsity basketball coach) will make him better.  So far he loves it.  Coach just yelled out, “You’re nice and young.  But you’re not THAT young.”  He expects more from my son and others than they’re capable of right now.  I love it.

What does this have to do with leading a long-term care operation?  A LOT!  Hang in there …

As I watch my son learn to play I’m reminded about my playing days.  I played basketball in high school and college – point guard.  I wasn’t very good.  In fact, I had a pretty lame shot.  But, I could dribble and pass ok and our teams did well.  As the point guard, I had to be able to dribble with both hands.  Once I discovered an opponent’s weak hand, I would force him to dribble with that weak hand all the time.  Better odds for me to force a turnover, take him out of his rhythm, and shake his confidence.  The question for every new leader is what’s my weak hand?  And, more importantly, what am I doing about it?

For some guys, their ‘left’ hand is their analytic/numbers skills.  For some it’s the ability to create and define a clear vision.  For others it’s their inability to seek their own weakness.  There’s a lengthy list of possible ‘left hands.’

Nothing is quite as painful as seeing a new leader resist admitting/discovering/dealing with his ‘left.’  It’s particularly difficult to do for a NEW leader b/c they don’t want to be perceived as weak in any way while they are trying so hard to establish their own credibility with their team and their company.  Thus, proving the timeless truth again that ‘pride cometh before the fall.’

So … what do you do?

  1. Look in the mirror.  Naked (metaphorically speaking).  Don’t pretend.  Do this exercise: write your name and signature on a piece of paper.  Next, do the same thing with your weak hand.  Can you do it?  Yes.  But … what words describe how it feels?  Awkward.  Forced.  Uncomfortable.  Just like dribbling against a full court press with my left hand.  Just like trying to analyze financials for a non-financial-type guy.  So … what part of your role do you shy away from?  What part of your role do you dread or wears you out?  Those are some pretty good clues.
  2. Talk to someone you trust and you know has pure motives towards you.  Push them to be candid.  Brutally honest.  Then, thank them sincerely for the feedback.
  3. Look at your results.
  4. Take note of things you’ve been told about yourself several times.

A great book that deals with this issue is What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.  I highly recommend it.

Lastly, how do you get away with not being as good with your left as you are with your right?  Be 6’9″ and named Magic.

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2 thoughts on “Can you go left?

  1. Whether you are right-handed or left-handed, you can always strengthen your weak hand and become a doubly effective ballhandler. Being able to dribble with both hands equally well makes you an unpredictable player, which means the defender will have to work twice as hard to figure out which way you are going.

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