Who's that Girl?


Lightning in a Bottle

Originally posted: July 7, 2010 on TrishMcFarlane.com

I didn’t plan to post today but I saw something really inspiring last night.

Yesterday, my post was about employee engagement and practical examples of what you can do to help improve it in your organization.  Last night, I went to my nephew’s baseball game and saw an example of engagement so strong and so simple, I was wishing I could capture it.  My nephew is nine and plays on a team with third and fourth grade boys.  I’m used to watching my six year old son’s team play, so watching boys a couple years older is really a difference.  A BIG difference.  They know their positions, they make some really good plays, and wow, can some of them hit the ball!

Well, the team was leading by six runs as we headed into the final inning.  Then, things just started falling apart.  Maybe they were overconfident at that point or maybe they were tired or becoming distracted.  Either way, mistakes started to happen.  What I saw was this:

The coach went up to a boy who had just made a big blunder.  The coach leaned down close so they could be eye-to-eye.  He looked right at the boy and quietly, in a hushed voice we could barely hear, gave the boy encouragement and explained how he could avoid that mistake in the future.  The little boy listened intently.  I mean INTENTLY.  You could tell from his body language that he was disappointed in himself and was taking this seriously.  Coach put one hand gently on the boy’s shoulder as he finished the chat.  They boy nodded, smiled, then went out to have great performance the rest of the game.

Never once did the coach make light of the situation.  Never once did the coach make the child feel defensive or like a personal failure.  It was purely a technical observation of how the boy could improve his performance.  It was amazing.  It worked because:

  • It was in the moment
  • It was not personal, but technical
  • It was serious
  • It addressed how the change in performance would benefit the team
  • It was focused even though there was a lot going on around them

I wish I could have captured that lightning in a bottle.  THAT was engagement that could transform the workplace.  Seen any coaching lately that you’d like to capture in a bottle?  Share your story in the comments.

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