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Nothing-But-Net Leadership

My dad, Jim Smith, was a huge proponent of mental attitude and vision and the effects they have on our lives. I was never much of a basketball player. In fact, I shunned team sports. I didn’t really care to watch them or even play them. My brother, on the other hand, was everything sports, especially basketball and football. My dad tried to get me involved in wrestling, but I was always more of a lover than a fighter. Still am.

I do remember, however, my dad telling us how our performance on the court or the field depended as much on physical practice as it did on mental practice. He said, “If you want to get good at free throws, your need to imagine yourself shooting free throws.” He would constantly remind us to “picture” ourselves standing at the free throw line. Dribble the ball a couple times, in our minds. Feel the weight of the ball in our hands. Assume the stance, the toe of the right shoe poised just slightly behind the line. Bend slightly at the knees. Focus on the front of the rim. Then purposely and smoothly extend the right arm, flicking the wrist down, letting the ball sail toward the goal…..swish! Nothing but net. He reminded us over and over and over to run through it in our head again and again and again.

When I was young and could play basketball, though I didn’t want to, this all sounded like hog wash. But time has taught me the wisdom of his words. It turns out, this technique works for more than just sports.

The quote that applies here is a scripture, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (KJV Proverbs 23:7) We become the focus of our desires. Concentrating on World of Warcraft will not develop good grades in school. Focusing on sewing (thinking about, reading about, watching shows about, talking about) WILL make us better at sewing.

I saw a poster the other day: “If you want to be a writer, write.” If your goal is to write a novel, it is not going to pour out of the ether while you’re playing online poker. You have to focus on writing. We will not accomplish the one thing we want–whatever it is–unless we devote some serious, concentrated, focused effort on that ONE thing.

My advice: If you want to be a leader, lead. Yes, you are going to make mistakes. But that is what life is all about. Live and learn. You will learn from your mistakes. Read books about leadership. (Read blogs about leadership!) Watch great leaders in action. Imagine yourself in similar circumstances…over and over and over again. Imagine yourself repeating excellence. Spend time on the leadership “court”. And then, when you are finally physically standing at the free throw line of leadership…swish! Nothing but net.
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