I’ve often heard the quote “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” attributed to Michael Jordan. That said, I’ve also heard Wayne Gretzky and Jose Cuervo given credit for the statement… Regardless of who coined the phrase, it carries a solid point – especially if we apply it as we’re setting the clear expectations during a tough conversation like we worked through last time. But even then though, being extremely clear about any expectation we have for changed behavior won’t likely yield a high percentage of those shots being made if there’s no goal in sight!
If we don’t have clarity around the outcome we want any tough conversation to achieve, we’re bound to struggle with setting expectations in a way that our friend or family member can translate into action. And while knowing the outcome we’re after may help us in detailing those expectations, we need to be just as intentional about providing a clear picture of that ideal outcome with the individual we’re delivering our message to.
For nine years now, Cindy and I have held a full day leadership development event in the Harrisonburg area for 200+ leaders from more than 70 organizations across the state. I believe this event has become the best event of its kind in Virginia each year and we’ve worked incredibly hard to make that happen. That said, this hasn’t happened by chance. One of the final things we do in preparing for the event is setting up the room the evening prior. Like every other aspect of the event, we have this down to a very detailed process that we carefully explain to each of the amazing volunteers who help us with that.
Every single item at each of the 225 seats in the room is placed in a precise location for a very specific reason. As we start the set-up process, I arrange a “model table” to serve as an example but that’s not where I stop. Each year we’ve held this event, we’ve taken time afterward to create a list of things we can do to improve it the following year. Many of those improvements have been as simple as what we can provide at each participant’s seat, so they never have to ask for it – or even think about it – allowing them to focus solely on the content that’s shared throughout the day and have the best possible experience.
Some of the items placed at each spot are resources the participants use throughout the event, and a few are promotional items. Even with those, we’re very intentional about the exact placement to create the best presentation we possibly can. If I were doing this all by myself, making sure everything was exactly the way I wanted it would be relatively simple because the years of experience has provided me with clarity for the specific outcome I’m working to achieve, but thank God I don’t have to do it alone because that would take hours!
Since the details involved can be excruciating for the folks who show up to help with that process, it’s my responsibility to make sure they’re just as clear on the outcome I’m hoping for, so each meticulous step isn’t overlooked. When we’re preparing for a tough conversation with someone we care about, having that same kind of clarity around the outcome we want to achieve is important. And it’s just as important that we provide them with the same clear understanding of that desired outcome! But before we jump right in, there’s one last thing that can be extremely helpful so that’s what we’ll look at next time…