I recently got into an argument with one of my daughter’s softball coaches. Okay . . . maybe not an argument, but a “healthy debate.”
Our “debate” involved whether or not my daughter should invest time in the off-season to work on her batting. Now, I subscribe to the “don’t let them peak until they are 16” philosophy. As a result, I’m concerned about burnout for an 11-year old who is playing softball virtually year-round.
So my daughter’s coach looks at me and says very directly, “Champions are made in the off-season.”
Then I asked myself, “What am I arguing about?” After all, this is in my DNA, just in a different form. I have taught my daughters that when we commit to something, we go “all in. This includes sports, classes, friendships, etc. Yes, my daughters might be in therapy one day, but if it’s because of my high expectations and the fact I instilled them with a work ethic, then I think I’m doing okay.
This philosophy is also true in the world of business. We don’t have an “off-season” in work. (Although wouldn’t that be great?)
Below is my advice for creating your own off-season and setting yourself up to be a champion in your trade:
#1—Take time off.
Yes, you can do it. I promise the world will keep spinning if you leave your laptop at home while you go on vacation. Don’t forget to turn off notifications to your phone, as well. You can’t truly unwind if you are always “on.” Put it in terms of your kids’ sports. Would you expect them to be practicing softball ALL of the time, including on vacation, weekends, nights, etc. Take time off!
#2—Set up a specific day to train.
Mine is “Training Tuesday.” Now, I don’t “bat a thousand,” but it’s on my calendar every week and I try to block off time to listen to or watch training materials. You must always be honing and perfecting your craft.
I hear you . . . I read resumes, job descriptions, articles, emails, etc. Basically, I read all day long. So the last thing I want to do at night is read. My solution is to listen to audio books. They’re a great way to burn “windshield time,” and I always get something out of them.
#4—In that same vein, you can learn a lot from podcasts.
I listen to podcasts on my long runs. I feel like there is someone there with me, and I’m learning as I tick off the miles. (That’s a win-win for both my mind and my body!)
If your city is anything like Kansas City, then the town essentially shuts down on the first day of the Major League Baseball season, when the Royals are playing their home opener. When that happens this year, I will probably be one of the few people still at the office. What a great day to take the day off, go have fun, unplug from the office, and regroup.
#5 Join professional organizations. Professional organizations have excellent monthly speakers and conferences that count towards any CPE that you need to maintain a certification.
#6 Take a class/Continue training. In Kansas City, along with multiple colleges and universities, we have excellent resources like SkillPath and Dale Carnegie training but there are many online options also. Here is what I found: Khan Academy, MOOC, Udemy, Coursera, EdX, Skillshare, and Alison. On top of that there is endless content on YouTube.
Keep working hard and bottom line this week, the first day of the Major League Baseball season should definitely be part of your off-season training!