The college hoops season just ended. For me, it marks the end of my first season as an analyst with the Big Ten Network. It’s not my full time deal, but broadcasting is fun, and it provides me with an avenue to stay close to the game. What I’ve valued most about it, however, is the preparation and performance aspects of the gig. Here’s how these two things relate to being an athlete and how they apply beyond the court or camera.
1. Preparation. Do I miss playing basketball? For sure. But you won’t find me at the local Y playing pickup. More than playing, I miss the preparation. The intense and intentional work that goes into it – leading up to game time. I miss that. Being on TV isn’t quite the same, but there is an intensity and urgency that comes with doing something live and under bright lights. It raises the stakes and demands that I come prepared.
Without preparation, you’ll get exposed. As a player, I watched game film, studied other players, practiced my footwork, and repped thousands of shots. As an analyst, I review tapes from segments or games, listen intently to other commentators, watch games with a pen and paper in hand, and rep out loud how I want to communicate specific ideas.
Being a pro (in anything) is all about preparation. Intentional preparation. As parents, Theresa and I try to prepare our kids before going somewhere/doing something with what they can expect and what we expect from them. When we do this, it usually goes more smoothly (never perfect!). At work, I’m always more efficient and productive on the weeks and days I prepare for in advance – prioritizing and acting on what’s most important.
2. Perform. Competing as a pro athlete is more than just playing a game – it’s the culmination of countless hours of preparation. The result is a performance. Again, broadcasting isn’t exactly the same. No one’s trying to stop me from executing, but when the camera rolls, it’s time to show up – with a readiness to act and willingness to respond to whatever the moment calls for. In a sense, it’s game time. Things come up (more often than you’d think) and you’ve got to adjust and make the most of it.
Doing anything at a high level is a performance. Because when you’ve envisioned and rehearsed and trained, you are ready to perform. It’s not phony. It’s real. You show up, fully engaged and focused because you know what lies ahead matters.
Performing doesn’t mean it’s scripted, but there is a plan. It means executing the game plan with great purpose.
I think of relationships – in my marriage, with friends and colleagues, throughout business – I want to approach others in a similar fashion. Prepared for and present in the interactions, so that I can take advantage of the moments – opportunities to learn and opportunities lift up.
What I miss most about playing ball is what I enjoy most about talking ball. But I realize I don’t have to be in a studio or sitting court-side with a mic to prepare for the pressure of a performance. Everyday, at home or work, throughout the community, and even online, provides moments to maximize.
Life is a performance, and it’s all determined by our preparation.