Those of you who know me well know that I am not a sports guy. I don’t follow any one sport well enough to talk intelligently about who’s ahead and who’s behind, or a particular team’s recent victories and defeats. Nonetheless, sports has a lot of great analogies and those who do care deeply about the various games often identify archetypal strategies and tactics. Recently a good friend of mine shared one with me.

In baseball I just learned there is such a thing as “beating the ball to the spot,” which is what happens when the batter connects solidly with the ball or the catcher makes a perfect catch.  I imagine this a similar phenonenon to what Wayne Gretsky meant when he uttered his famous lines, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

I have been thinking about this in the context of leadership. When one has a clear sense of what is possible and knows how to meet emerging circumstances just as they crest in order to influence and direct them, that is what I call leadership. It is a lot like beating the ball to the spot, with a clear intent on what to do with it once you meet it.

Are you looking ahead at how to make the most of current circumstances? What might you do to beat the ball to the spot in your world?


The only way a kid is going to practice is if it’s total fun for him… and it was for me.

– Wayne Gretzky