Can You Adapt Your Game for Today’s Players?

Last night the NFL held their annual draft with millions of fans watching and listening to see what future talent their team invests in. Championships come out of the hit or miss speculations of organizations and careers hang in the balance for the executives who make those decisions regarding the future potential of 20-year-olds.

Not surprisingly, they get it wrong as often as they get it right.

Up until Pondemonium last year it looked like we got it wrong with Nick Stryker. He had the right pedigree on paper (a degree in horticulture), a background of summer jobs working in the field, and he even passed the eye test looking like bad-ass UFC champ Connor McGregor’s twin brother (sans tattoos)

The problem was that Nick wasn’t happy working at Aquascape and it showed. For lack of a better descriptor, he appeared burned out doing the work the job demanded. That’s when Pondemonium happened. To say that Nick was a new man after attending Pondemonium would be an understatement! In his own words what he saw as an attendee was an entire industry of professionals who had built careers in this demanding field. He met people from all over who were passionate, successful and, yes, HAPPY with their careers as foremen. They were just like him in so many ways!

On Monday after Pondemonium, Nick had a noticeable improvement in his demeanor. He stepped faster and smiled more. That’s when something unprecedented occurred.

Seeing Nick’s improved attitude, we decided he was worth our investment and we set out to determine ways we could support him in staying upbeat. As it turns out, more than half the battle for maintaining Nick’s positive attitude was working around a lifestyle decision he had made …

As often happens when it comes to love, it screws up almost everything else in your life (not that I have any personal experience with that). Nick’s college sweetheart lived and worked over 2 hours away from Aqualand. Five and sometimes six days a week, Nick was spending over 4 hours each day commuting back and forth to work! Add in the normally long hours this career requires, it wasn’t a matter of IF but rather WHEN burnout would occur for Nick once again.

Here’s what we decided to do for Nick to avoid burnout, that we had never even considered doing before…

We scheduled Nick to work 4 days a week with Friday’s off. That’s right, Nick gets Friday’s off while working for a seasonal business that could keep him, and the two or three more guys we desperately need, working 8 days a week!!!

I talked to Nick today after once again getting raving reviews on his attitude and performance. It’s Friday and he was driving to work. It turns out that at 8:30 pm last night when he was pulling back into the office after a long, cold, drizzly day of cleanouts, Ed called him looking for an experienced extra set of hands at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Nick, being the team player he wants to be while still having a lifestyle he’s chosen, agreed to come in on his off day to help.

Our challenge managing Nick is to respect the boundary we agreed to with his Friday’s off as much as possible.

Creating success with people is the hardest job for all of us and certainly, the Chicago Bears who’s pundits and fans have given a solid F to for their selection of an unproven QB in last night’s draft. (Desperation tends to do that…again and again for desperate organizations) Nick looked like a rookie gone bust last year, but in year two he is blossoming now that we have found how to utilize his skills and unique circumstances in our offense.

You might be like an Archie Bunker-ish Mike Ditka with your old school coaching of your team. If you believe that guys should just suck it up and do the work required by the job you might not be wrong, but that doesn’t make you right either. To you, I say that as great as “Da Coach” was there is a reason he’s not coaching in the NFL anymore. Simply put his old school mentality couldn’t adapt HIS game to today’s players!

Nick is a shining example of what happens when you do! Here’s to finding your own Nicks…and adapting your traditional coaching style if necessary to do it!