Sat. Sep 22nd, 2018

Eliminating Distractions and Going All In

March Madness. It’s such a glorious time for betting degenerates everywhere. Dozens of games providing point spread, parlay, and teaser possibilities galore. There is money to be made all over the place if you play your Cinderellas right. I went to Las Vegas a few years ago for the beginning of the NCAA Tournament. It was absolutely awesome. All of the energy at sports books mixed with wall-to-wall hoops action — it almost brings a tear of joy to my eye just thinking about it.

A guy named Eric Barger and seven of his buddies recently met in Vegas to do just that – soak up tournament goodness while cashing in. Each person contributed $100. They entered an $800 moneyline bet on UMBC of all teams. Eric graduated from UMBC and didn’t dwell on the fact that every No. 16 seed had lost to No. 1 seeds in men’s tournament history. 0-for-135. Goose egg. When the Retrievers took down Virginia, the group earned a cool $16,000. This pleased the gambling gods greatly.

To the surprise of some of my family, friends and listeners, I haven’t made a single bet during March Madness this year. I’ve given up gambling and all drinks except water during Lent for a couple of years now. It’s a small sacrifice but a nice gesture parting ways with a few things that I enjoy. No luscious Mountain Dew with my crunchy tacos and cinnamon twists at Taco Bell, and no parlays including UMBC +20.5 against Virginia for me.

I’m far from a high-stakes gambler, but I’ve been known to throw down some “Scooby Snacks” on games I feel strongly about. It’s a form of competition for me. It hit me recently though that my form of gambling competition was getting in the way of a much bigger competition — putting on the best sports radio show I possibly could.

I was doing a show with Rob Parker on FOX Sports Radio two months ago. The Charlotte Hornets hosted the Miami Heat on January 20th — a date that shall live in bad beat infamy. Miami was playing its fourth road game in six nights and faced a well-rested Hornets squad. I put my faith in Kemba Walker and company to win the game outright. Charlotte had a five-point lead and possession of the ball with only :38 seconds remaining. They choked away the lead so badly that they actually found a way to lose in regulation! I Gronk spiked my purple Gatorade.

Rob and I talked about the game briefly. We got a few laughs out of my misery and the obnoxious way the game ended. Sure, we used it for show content, but more was lost than gained. It dawned on me that watching Nicolas Batum turn the ball over to completely screw up my vested interest had gotten in the way of doing my job.

Each time I looked down to watch a portion of the game during a commercial break was time I could’ve been fine-tuning the show. There is no end to the bells and whistles you can add. The topics were all worked out, but I should’ve been searching for anything that would enhance the show — a tweet, topic transition, audio clip, or joke that would spruce it up. That should’ve been my focus, not whether Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could actually hit a shot to help me win a bet.

It isn’t a crime to make correctable mistakes. The true crime is not correcting a mistake once you’ve recognized that it’s taking away from your performance.

What’s something that is distracting you from doing a better job? What’s taking your focus in a direction that it shouldn’t? There are plenty of things that can cause your performance to suffer — texting, daydreaming, using social media for non-work purposes. Wow, listen to me. “Using social media for non-work purposes” sounds like a line from a low-budget corporate work video. It’s still absolutely true. I doubt that checking your Facebook timeline is helping you blossom at work.

Distractions seem harmless until you spot the full impact.

You have to identify what is enhancing your performance and what is diminishing it. My advice is to take inventory of yourself for a week. Look at everything you do during a show or workday. I’d be shocked if there isn’t anything you can do to improve your performance. Nothing? You’re just a model employee like that? If you want to succeed and be the best, you need to pinpoint the things that you are doing wrong. Once you identify those areas, make corrections. Tighten the screws and trim the fat.

My show during the Hornets disaster on January 20th wasn’t bad by any means, but it could’ve been better if my focus was sharper. I always put a lot into my show prep. However, the rundown of each show I’ve ever done varies from my pre-show rundown. I constantly alter things and go by feel based on which topics interest the audience most. It takes attention to detail to get it right. Attention that wasn’t aimed in the right direction at times.

Maybe you aren’t crazy like me and avoid having live action on games when your focus should be elsewhere. Good for you, but find whatever bad habits are holding you back and break them. I finally saw how my focus wasn’t where it needed to be. So guess what? I don’t have any bets going on during shows anymore. If you look closely, you can actually see a gold halo above my head now.

We hear athletes talk about “leaving it all on the field” — doing everything within their power to succeed and win games. Why would it be any different with your job? If you want to be a true success, you need to keep doing what works and stop doing what doesn’t. If you don’t give maximum effort, you’ll probably live to regret it.

Two phrases come to mind: the slogan for Mercedes Benz is “the best or nothing.” In Texas Hold ‘Em you can go “all in.” Both should apply to your approach at work. If you aren’t fully committed, you are killing your potential.

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