Recently, Tim Tebow, the former college football quarterback star, Heisman Trophy winner and sometimes pro quarterback was given a major league baseball tryout.
According to an article I read in USA Today while traveling, 40 talent scouts representing 28 of the 30 major league baseball teams attended the tryout. He had mixed reviews. I suppose only time will tell if a team offers him a spot, most likely on a minor league roster.
He was quoted by USA Today saying, “This is something I love to do, and I think when you have that mind-set, it lets you be free to just go out there and compete. It lets you be free to do what a lot of people think you can’t do.”
The author of the article pointed out that Tebow hadn’t played any organized baseball for the past 10 years—since his high school days, when he turned his focus to development as a college football quarterback.
Interesting story, perhaps. Yet the story got me thinking, is he playing to his strengths? Tebow is, no doubt, a talented athlete; a gift I’d personally really enjoy having myself!
Strengths are definitely a gift. Some of us have one truly significant strength, some have a couple. Rarely, in my experience, do even the most gifted people have more than 3 or 4 REAL strengths.
Don’t get me wrong – some people may be pretty good at a lot of things. I’m speaking here about specific strengths that put them in the top 5 percent of people in a given field or profession.
We all know a few people we would say are exceptionally gifted communicators. We marvel when we hear them speak – they have a seemingly unique ability to really connect with the audience, whether the group numbers 10 or 10,000.
Or maybe you know of a highly gifted surgeon. Someone who has people coming from around the world to be treated by such an immensely talented expert.
There are several people whom we would likely agree are exceptionally gifted leaders.
In all of these situations, if we studied their background, experience and habits, I submit we would find they knew they had a gifting for the area before they became well known. We would also find that they continually worked at maximizing their talent and capability in that area. It is doubtful they ever stopped learning, practicing or growing.
That is really my message today – do you play to your strengths or your natural gifting? Do you know the one or two or maybe three things you are exceptionally well gifted to do? Hopefully you do. Likely, this gifting will come fairly naturally to you AND you really enjoy life when you have an opportunity to use this gift.
Many years ago, Marcus Buckingham, then with the Gallop organization, published a book entitled First Break All The Rules – What The Greatest Managers In The World Do Differently. If you read the book, you may recall that Gallop interviewed over 80,000 managers as a part of this research project. A key finding was that the best managers helped people further develop their strengths and did not pour resources into “fixing” or improving their weaknesses.
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At the time of the study the conventional thinking was, and still is to some extent, to help people on their team perform better by sending them to training classes to “teach” the skills necessary to overcome a weakness. The project demonstrated that if there was a successful change—and that is a BIG if—the person would have, at best, improved from below average or unacceptable to barely acceptable.
To exaggerate the point, it would be like taking a 300 pound football player and “investing” in them to become a ballet dancer! We’d all agree this is a waste of time and money. Instead, smart football coaches invest in developing that 300 pound football player to become stronger, faster and perhaps more agile. Investing resources to make that player into a quarterback or a defensive safety would likely be a poor investment.
So, what about you? Are you investing in the development of one of your top strengths or are you relying on the natural talents to keep you going? You know that relying solely on your natural talent will only get so far, don’t you?
By investing, I mean spending your time and money to seriously advance your gifting? And by seriously, I mean allocating 3 to 4 hours or more each week in reading, attending specially designed webinars or workshops, listening to podcasts where the recognized experts are being interviewed and similar development activities.
Jim Rohn, whom I have referenced many times before in previous messages, suggests investing 10% of what you earn on your development. He said, “If you invest in your job, you can make a good living; if you invest in yourself, you can make a fortune.”
The best of the best do make this commitment and follow through with it. This discipline is part of what makes them the best of the best. They don’t become the best of the best overnight, regardless of the raw talent they have.
You may not have the desire or inclination to be the best of the best and that’s ok. Hopefully though, if you want to be the best that you can possibly be given your talents, you will agree it requires continuous learning, growth and development.
If you are serious about investing in your growth and development as a leader, let me know. Many of you know I work with leaders who want to be better leaders. “Leadership is about influence, nothing more and nothing less” as one of my mentors, John Maxwell has said many times. I help leaders achieve greater influence.
As I was reviewing and editing this message, I learned Tim Tebow was offered a minor league contract with the NY Mets. Will he make it as a professional baseball player? I don’t know. But what I do know is this – if baseball is one of his natural gifts, he will have to invest a great deal of time, effort and dedication into becoming the best he can be at baseball.