Think/Read/Listen Outside the Box

by Jack Warren, Top Coach editor and host

Jack W 3I want you to [cliché alert] think outside the box. More than that, however, I want you to read and listen outside the box. What box? Your box. Specifically, your baseball box.

Take a look at your bookshelf the next time you’re in the office. How many of the book titles are baseball specific? How many are not? Take a look at your iTunes podcast playlist. How many are baseball and sports specific? How many are about a topic not directly related to the game?

John Wooden is considered by many to be the greatest coach of all time – regardless of sport or level. Coach Wooden authored or co-authored approximately 17 books. Do you know how many were about the game of basketball? Three. That’s right. Three. Every other book dealt with leadership, organization, and other development topics.

People often ask me what I’m reading lately and are often surprised to hear that none of the last three or four books were related to baseball. Or they could have been just as easily been all about baseball. My typical reading list might include books on The Great Depression, the War Between the States, self-help, and (always) a biography.

That goes for podcasts too. Of the 12 podcasts I listen to weekly, one is specifically about baseball and one is loosely based on a baseball framework (shout out to KWB Radio!). What surprises my friends even more than the fact that only two podcasts are baseball related is the subject matter of the others. One is about the RV (recreational vehicle) lifestyle and one is about Walt Disney World. I don’t have an RV and I have been to Walt Disney World two or three times in my entire life.

You and I are CEOs of small corporations. It is imperative that we learn all about our business and craft. That means more than baseball (or podcasting) content. You need to look to other critical areas such as leadership, organization, creativity, staffing, and more.

I listen to a Walt Disney related podcast because it give me ideas about creativity (among other things). The RV podcast helps me with ideas about tapping into my community. A book on The Great Depression – well, it’s just interesting.

What are you listening to and reading that is helping you in areas off the baseball field? Think about areas where you, your staff, or your players might need development – and don’t limit yourself. Think about the common topics like leadership, organization, conditioning, health & wellness, creativity, time management, as well as some less common topics. Then be creative in your resources to learn about or get ideas for this particular area.

In the very beginning of a new venture, I will utilize how-to books, videos, and podcasts, but quickly move on to resources that show these particular areas in practice. That’s why I listen to a podcast on the RV lifestyle to see how the host connects with his community and a podcast on Disney to see various aspects of the creative process.

Make this part of your yearly staff planning session. Think of several areas of emphasis for the coming year and then find resources to support you in this endeavor. Bounce these ideas off your staff, players, and peers to see if they have suggestions for resources. Think, read, and listen outside your box.


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