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    Goal Setting : Creating your own path to success




    Goal Setting : Creating your own path to success

    In this world one of life's greatest truths is nobody is just going to give you anything you have to earn what you want through hard work. I've had an interesting few weeks in my baseball career. At the beginning of the month our association made its promotions for the upcoming year and I was not promoted. While I am an ambitious person and I want to move up in the organization, I wasn't terribly disappointed that I was not promoted, I was a bit disappointed in how the votes broke down.

    Before I catch some flack from you avid readers of mine yes I wrote in one of my game journals on my blog, "If I'm not promoted this year it will be because of this game." This was a bit dramatic of me. I certainly hope that one game that I took a bit harshly on myself will not define me as an umpire. But it was a great learning experience.

    Once I was notified that I was not going to be promoted I immediately started on a game plan so that next year I will be promoted. I printed out all of my evaluations for the year and as I mentioned in one of my blogs my aggregated lowest scores were in my base mechanics. So I determined that must have been the reason and improving my base mechanics would be my target. Well I decided I needed others input as well so I went to one of the baseball committee meetings to get their opinions, after all they are the ones who made the decision. Their first question to me was, "What do you see as your weakest area?"

    I immediately replied that I felt that my base mechanics were the problem. I thought I would be able to impress them by making them aware I'd examined my scores and saw this as a deficiency in my game and am able to acknowledge it. What happened next was a bit of a surprise to me.

    Members of the committee seemed almost less concerned with the statistical information I had looked at. While we only discussed my base work for a short time they brought to my attention two other weaknesses that while I overlooked in my analysis of my evaluations they wanted to focus on more. So be sure to try and get some outside help, especially from those who are in places of authority. They gave me some excellent feedback I am going to incorporate into my goals for the next year which are at the end of this article.

    As a Human Resource Management major in college one of the classes I took was Organizational Change. We spent a few weeks covering goal setting. The professor who was very effective at relating organizational change to the individual level as none of the 19-20 year olds in the class had any real organizational experience. He relayed the concept of setting goals which were SMART & Challenging. (I do not know whose original idea this is so I cannot give proper credit. I Googled it and found various sources)

    S - Specific Not I'm going to be a better umpire, but I'm going to improve my timing.

    M - Measurable Not necessarily as in the case of timing to be measurable on a stopwatch in all cases, but being perceived as having better timing on evaluations.

    A - Attainable Having the goal of improving my timing is attainable, having a perfect strike zone every game is not.

    R - Realistic If I were to have the goal of being the home plate umpire for Game 1 of the World Series next month, I may be setting a goal which is not realistic, just maybe.

    T - Timely Put a time frame to it not, I'm going to have improved timing, but I will improve my timing by next year.

    Challenging It's not much of a goal to hay I'm going to eat a ham and swiss sandwich for lunch because there's no challenge to it.

    Here is a poor goal statement:

    I'm going to be a better umpire

    Here's one that fits our model:

    I will demonstrate my improved timing in my evaluation scores, before the end of the 2009 evaluation period.

    Now there is no ambiguity in your goal and you will be able to know if you reach it or not. Also, you can set multiple goals, just make sure you follow the model. Believe me just having the specific goal defined is a huge help, but it's only the beginning.

    Now let's work on an execution plan for the goal. This will require some deep realistic introspection. Unfortunately, not everybody is good at this part. Once again referring to my career as a human resource professional I deal with this on a regular basis. I deliver the annual reviews to all of our staff individually. When it comes to discussing some peoples' weaknesses or "developmental opportunities" as the PC freaks like to say, I am amazed at how some people just cannot see their shortcomings. I spoke to somebody once about their lack of organization (not that I have much room to talk). I was able to specifically document more than one occasion where their lack of organization created a preventable situation. That person vehemently denied that they were not organized and really took offense to being told this. All the while we're sitting in their office which by any definition was a fire hazard.

    Sticking with the timing example think it through, try to see yourself the way others see you and determine why you are perceived as not having good timing. Are you coming up to quickly on your calls, are you having to change your calls, are your mechanics causing you to have bad timing? So diagnose the problem and be honest with yourself.

    Now depending on your specific situation and goal begin to execute your strategy for accomplishing your goal. You may decide that if you increase your head height and wait half a second more before making a call you will reach your goal. Go out on the field and try it. Maybe after a few games you realize this isn't helping as much as you expect, time to make a new strategy. While keeping the same goal you can change your strategy for achieving the goal. Think of it as a trip where your goal is your destination, you may have to take a detour or other alternate route to get there. If you make your strategy too rigid then it has a higher chance of failure. Also remember it may be necessary to take a step back in order to move forward.

    As you're executing your plan look at each game and see how things are progressing. Get others opinions. If you haven't noticed already umpires are overall a good group of guys who want each other to succeed. Tell your partner in your pre-game, "Hey I'm really trying to improve my timing would you take a look at me in regard to my timing and let me know what you think?" Now that you've asked you'd better be ready for their response. Good or bad be sure to thank them. Even if they tell you things you completely disagree with think about what they said. There is probably some level of truth in there. Find it and use it.

    Also, take a look at what others are doing in your area of weakness. Focus on them, and learn from what they are doing be it good or bad. You may be able to see that you are able to take a piece from this person's game or that person's game helping you. If for no other reason helping you learn what not to do.

    Here are my goals for the 2009 season:

    For the upcoming evaluation season I am going to demonstrate my improvement in both evaluation scores and perception in regard to my base mechanics, my partner communication and assertiveness.

    Plan for base mechanics:

    1. Continue to bring down my plate to base ratio
    2. Make sure when I'm in "B" and there is a pick off attempt I first step to the 45' mark with my left foot.
    3. Solicit feedback from partners
    4. Create a specific section in my game journal to focus on base mechanics
    5. Watch and learn more from others

    Plan for partner communications:

    1. Make this part of the game I actively think about rather than just do
    2. Concentrate on eye contact with my partner
    3. Be loud enough that I have no doubt my partner hears me
    4. Acknowledge my partners communications
    5. Solicit feedback from others
    6. Create a specific section in my game journal to focus on base mechanics
    7. Watch and learn more from others

    Plan for assertiveness:

    1. Take control from the first minute
    2. Have a strong plate conference
    3. Address situations, do not ignore them
    4. Do not allow coaches or players to show me up in any form
    5. Don't hesitate to pull the trigger if needed
    6. Show greater strength and authority on calls
    7. Develop a more authoritative strike 3 mechanic
    8. Solicit feedback from others
    9. Create a specific section in my game journal to focus on base mechanics
    10. Watch and learn more from others

    I feel confident if I am successful with this goal and plan in mind, I will be successful in terms of promotion next year.

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