Pass inside the box…and think outside the box

In Touch - Newsletter - #20

Welcome to the twentieth edition of "In Touch." As always, I would love to continue the conversation so please hit "reply" and let me know what you think.

Story of the Week: Pass inside the box…and think outside the box

A few days ago, I was watching my young son’s football training. What happened on the pitch not only surprised me but it has stayed in my mind.

"Today there will be no goalkeepers," the football coach said. "When you’re inside the box, before taking a shot on goal you have to exchange at least two passes with a team-mate. "But sir," one of the kids exclaimed, “What kind of a game is that?" "It’s a team game,” the coach said emphatically.

He knew what he was doing. Eight-year-olds – especially the most talented footballers – think that scoring goals comes down to a solo effort. Now, as soon as they found themselves in the penalty box running towards goal with the ball at their feet, the one thing stopping them from attempting to score was not the goalkeeper but the new rule imposed by the coach. They were forced to think about passing and working as part of a team rather than going for glory on their own. After all, in a real game, they would be faced by several defensive players and the best way to break down a strong defence is to work together rather than as individuals. By removing the goalkeepers from my son’s training game, the coach taught the young would-be football stars to understand that, no matter how good they may be, their own talent alone will never be enough to win the game. They need to cooperate and collaborate with their teammates.

A few years ago, I found myself working with a woman whose extremely negative attitude prevented her from being excellent at her job. All the training I did to encourage positivity in the workplace seemed to have no effect on her. So, just before leaving on a business trip, I decided to try a novel way of offering her a path towards change: I put her in charge of positive attitude training for her colleagues. It was a gamble but it worked. As the weeks went by, her behaviour gradually changed until she had become a model of positive thinking.

To achieve this, I had been forced to think outside the box to change her mindset and she, in turn, was obliged to rethink her ideas and attitudes. Similarly, my son’s football coach had come up with a clever idea to turn eight-year-olds into team players by making them think and act in a new way.

So, if you want to change others – or yourself – you need to start thinking outside the box – even if you’re playing football!

Words of Wisdom

On the existence of the box:

“Today you hear people talk about ‘thinking outside the box’. But Walt Disney would say, ‘No! Don’t think outside the box! Once you say that, you’ve established that there is a box.’ Walt would refuse to accept the existence of the box.”

Jim Korkis, Disney Historian

A Question to Ponder, dear friend.

“Are there ‘goalkeepers’ in your company preventing your colleagues from collaborating and communicating better? How can you get round them?”

Hit reply and let me know.


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Best Regards,

Michael R. Virardi