If there’s one thing I’ve really missed since COVID took the world hostage, it’s attending baseball games. I’m so excited to be back in the stands with a hot dog in my hand. And it was fantastic to follow the Brewers to Denver this summer to catch a Rockies game with our newest team member, Kara Barnes, along with our husbands!
As much as I love watching baseball in person again, one thing that seems to be more prevalent this season is bogus calls by the umpires. Hearing an ump call a strike—when the ball was clearly outside of the strike zone—is maddening. I can tell from the fourth deck of the stadium that it wasn’t a strike! Okay. Maybe the umpire has a better view, but everyone knows they get it wrong sometimes. However, there’s not much the batters can do but accept the calls as they’re made on the field (at least not without getting thrown out of the game).
The same is true during meetings.
When leaders of diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and personalities come together, odds are there will be behaviors, opinions, and final calls that not everyone agrees with. It can be frustrating, especially with the added pressure of being well into the third quarter.
And while it may be tempting to argue over past budget decisions or spiral into unsportsmanlike thoughts over a colleague’s behavior, doing so can make us lose focus on what we need to do next—or even get us booted off the field. So, what do we do?
We make Flexibility our play and practice accepting the ump’s calls.
Accepting Bogus Calls
While players can’t control the calls made by umpires, there are at least two things they can control: how they react and their next swing.
In meetings, we also control how we react and our next swing. And stretching to accept might be the best thing we can do at that moment.
It can be hard to practice Flexibility and stretch for acceptance when we’re faced with a ridiculous opinion, behavior, or call from a colleague. I get it. They can make us think, Why does so-and-so have to make things so difficult? When are they going to change?
But by taking the time to engage our Thoughtfully Fit core, we can keep clear of the dugout and stay focused by identifying what’s in our control and spending our time and energy on the choices we do have.
The next time one of your team members shows up late to a meeting, makes a call you don’t agree with, or simply won’t stop clicking their pen, it’s time for Flexibility. Practice stretching to accept what is, so you can focus on what you do best—instead of crying about what happened. After all, there’s no crying in baseball!
Don’t get it twisted. Acceptance isn’t approval. It simply means accepting the opinion or behavior in the moment, so we can put our energy and focus on the bigger game.
Playing the Bigger Game
Bad umpire calls are a part of baseball. As a fan, if I get hung up on bad calls, I’m not going to enjoy the rest of the game. And the players? They train to move on so they can stay focused on the game—not the bad calls. It’s a choice. And it takes practice to truly accept and move on.
When a diverse work team—with different perspectives, communication styles, and pen-clicking habits— comes together, there’s always a potential for conflict and people problems. It can be enough to make teams lose sight of their end goal and take thoughtless actions.
But by engaging our core and practicing Flexibility, we can put our focus back on the bigger game we’re playing as a team: knocking the challenges we’re facing out of the park to accomplish the organization’s mission.
One-Minute Core Workout
The next time your team meeting has you saying, “You’re killing me, Smalls,” engage your core.
Pause. When you find yourself striking out in a meeting or getting bad calls, take a moment to Pause.
Think. Ask yourself, What do I have control over? What choices do I have? How can I stretch to fully accept this situation so I can move forward and focus on what’s most important?
Act. Limber up and stretch for acceptance.
Remember, before you can be a star player, you might first have to practice playing ball in the sandlot. Find moments in your workday to practice swinging at your challenges with Flexibility, so you can bring those skills into any room and help your team hit a homerun!
Looking for some extra ideas on how you can start clearing the bases in the meeting room? Check out Priya Parker’s TED Talk, Three Steps to Turn Everyday Get-Togethers into Transformative Gatherings. Conflict Mediator and author Priya Parker shares how we can engage with family, friends, and colleagues in more effective and meaningful ways by reimagining how we interact. Her example of the office cage match (while hilarious) was brilliant. Her TED Talk is seriously a must watch.