I’ve never thought about comparing my hobby to my day job, but that’s because I’ve never taken the time to think about how the two could be similar. In How Your Hobbies Can Make You a Better CEO, Derek Schoettle, GM, Watson Data Platform, IBM, points out how a person’s hobby directly relates to their job, and the lessons you can apply to both. He used his pastime of fishing to demonstrate these parallels, so I tested out his theory by using the recreational game I still play to this day — softball.
Communication My position in softball is in the outfield — mainly because I love to run — but when the ball gets hit my way, communication is key. If I’m playing right center, communication with left center is the main course of action. When a ball is hit towards me, whomever is the first to yell, “I’ve got it” sends a signal to the other so we don’t collide.
Communication is a huge component of the work I do every day at Farland Group. Communicating to colleagues, peers, managers and clients keeps an open dialogue and helps to avoid business-related collisions. Whether letting a colleague know I can answer an email sent to both of us, or keeping a manager up to date on a project’s progress, communication is at the forefront.
Back up Throughout my years of playing, I’ve learned to move on every play whether the ball is hit to me or not. Even more important is backing-up the first, second or third baseman — because if there’s an overthrown ball, being the backup could make the difference between a single and a home run.
At work, if I need help with a project or ask a colleague to review a piece of my work, they are essentially doing the same thing and playing the back-up role. It’s important to know you can ask for help — because instead of a home run, it could mean a missed deadline or an overlooked error before an important document is sent.
Timing In the batter’s box, timing is everything. You have to time the pitch just right — from when it leaves the pitcher’s hand to the time you are ready to swing. Otherwise, you’ll miss the ball completely and give your teammates in the dugout a nice breeze.
Time management and managing deadlines effectively, knowing when to follow up and chiming in during a call at the right time makes for a steady flow of business processes.
Agile If you wind up on the bases, speed and agility gets you points in the playbook. But when the ball is hit, you can’t just sprint to home plate — if there’s a pop fly to the outfield and you’re on third, waiting to see if the ball is caught and tagging up before scoring the point is of utmost importance.
We hear from our clients on almost a daily basis about how their organizations are placing a focus on increasing agility. I try to be agile during my workday too, but I still pay attention to my surroundings and triple check all aspects of a project before sending it in to meet a deadline.
Having clear communication with good timing, backing-up and being speedy will help you win games, and it’s also what will help you succeed in your day job.