When is the right time to talk about expectations?
Whether a baseball team, baseball players, a business or in the classroom, we all have some sort of expectations in our heads of an ultimate result. But there’s a difference between an expected standard and an expected result in my opinion. If I am in a position to run a group of people (on a baseball field is the easiest example for me to use right now), I will always expect the group to check their egos at the door. We should all have the intent to do whatever it takes to help the group succeed as a whole. I get that one year you hit .290 and this year you want to hit .300, but remember that this whole season is not going to be about you. Believe it or not, baseball is a team sport. Everybody is expected to do their job to the best of their ability to help the team win.
At this current moment, we are months away from starting the season. What are guys expected to do by the coaching staff? Work hard, improve their craft, ask questions, learn and be good teammates. At times, this era of athletes might think that this is the time to get their playing time and showcase themselves. We will not play a game for almost five months, but sometimes our athletes believe that they need to post numbers right now. Maybe the message has not been effectively communicated to them, but this is the time to improve your game and learn everything you possibly can about the way the program runs and about the game of baseball. Work and effort will indeed bring about results, and that will always be the most satisfying to anybody.
Now we’re back to expectations. Putting in hard work to get the results…requires putting in the hard work. The offseason is most definitely an opportune time to put in the work. That is nothing groundbreaking, but I think that college athletes might be thinking that this is the time to post numbers. The fall numbers do not mean anything. Continue to improve throughout the fall/winter and hit the ground running in the spring.
So back to expectations. I believe there are expectations that a leader needs to discuss with his or her team all the time. “We expect you to give your best effort every day.” “We expect you to check your ego at the door and do whatever you can to help this organization.” The second the expectations get twisted up with personal results is the moment a team becomes a bit more disconnected. My idea of a perfect organization is one where everybody is mindful of the team goal and each person does their best to help the team reach it. Do what is asked of you because in that ideal organization the leader is not going to put you in a position to mess up the group. He or she is there to put you in a position to both succeed personally and help the team succeed.
My final advice to college baseball players right now would be to respect this process. Believe in your coaches and what they are teaching you. They are not trying to make you suck. If you suck, then the team will not be any better. Make it a personal expectation to use the fall to work hard, learn, improve every day and be a great teammate. By focusing on those four things, expect team and personal results to come once the season begins. The second you get off of that path and start focusing on doing your own thing, you’ll end up in trouble. Be aware of any times you slip and hop back on. If you are confused about any expectations, make sure you ask your leaders. It is very important to the success of the team that you are aware of what you need to do to help. Believe in your leaders, believe in your teammates and believe in yourself. If you are not getting the “results” right away, continue to follow the team direction and trust in it. The results may not come right away. That that is not the end of the world. Continue to get back to those team expectations and work harder in that moment of struggle to trust those expectations. In the end, they will help you succeed which will help the team succeed.