Monday, December 14, 2009

Stuff I've Learned in 2009

Getting to be that time of year for holiday wishes and ugly sweater parties. So I thought I'd throw out a few things that I've picked up this year.

Being Open is Better
Honesty is always something that's always been a core attitude of mine... there's never a good reason to lie. But when it comes to business, there's a tendency to keep things under wraps. You don't want your competitors to know what you're doing -- you think you need to keep that edge by being secretive.
There's a flaw in that thinking though -- You don't know everything. I definitely don't know everything. In fact, no one knows everything.
Two heads are better than one, and if I can crowdsource something for the website then we'll probably be able to build it better than if I had just tried to do it on my own.
Why be secretive? Am I trying to hide something? Why would I? So talk about it. Whether it's a blog post or a quick note on the forum, an email or a quick phone call. Input from others can usually set you on the right course.

There's Always More Information Available
For a long time, I had my sights set on creating "the" resource for water skiing on the internet. Well that's ridiculous. I obviously can't come up with everything there is to know, on any subject. And even if I could, there'd still be at least a hundred other websites out there on the same subject. Do I know a lot about slalom waterskiing? Sure. Is there more information that someone else has that I don't? Yep. Can any one create a site that has all the information there is to know on any one subject? Probably not.

Not Having Time is Not an Excuse
I really learned this lesson from a high school history teacher when I took a week off from school to go to the US Championships. I didn't finish off my assignments by the time I got back and he said to me "You know, you're always busy... but you're never that busy". I didn't really think about that too much until this year. Is there a lot to get done? Always. Can you finish it all? Probably not -- By the time you do, there will be more things to get done. Is that ever an excuse? Definitely not. You can set your own priorities. It's almost never the case that there are so many things to do that you can't get them all done, done well, and done on time. Saying you don't have the time is a cop out, an excuse, and just isn't valid.

Answer the Phone and Every Email
Considering that not having time isn't an excuse, it's imperative to have the time to answer email and the phone. So I published my phone number all over the place... it's 781-34-69-SKI. Do I answer the phone every time? Almost. Do I get back to every person? Some still fall through the cracks -- But that's my fault. I can still do a better job of getting back in touch with people. But I've made it a priority to do as much as I can. No excuses.
I want to talk to people. I want to put my contact information out there to be helpful. Maybe it will lead me to a new opportunity. Maybe I'll learn something. It's a good policy.

Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
I found myself repeating this old axiom over and over again this year. Whether it's setting your summer schedule early on in the year, designing the next part of the website, or skiing at a tournament, it's imperative to have a plan. Without a plan, stuff just has a tendency to go to sh*t for one reason or another. Once you have a plan in place, then you can start to take the steps necessary to execute it. Without a plan, you're spelunking without lights.

Gates Are the Most Important Part of your Pass on the Water
Whether it's my own skiing or someone that I'm coaching, almost every time you can trace problems back to the gates. Being on the right rhythm with the boat and on the right line at the get go makes a night and day difference. Sure, it's not that simple, but without the right line on the gate, everything else is going to have problems.
Coaching skiers over the internet this year, I found myself reeling the video back to the gates time and time again. Getting that gate shot right just puts you on the right line to start with -- then it's a lot easier to keep it going after that.

Constantly Evolve
Nothing is ever finished. Even when it's finished, there's probably something that could be better. So there's improvements that can still be made. This is my attitude with most things in life now. Whether it's my skiing, or the latest feature on the website... there's still room for improvement. Constant dissatisfaction with the status quo is a good thing and will drive you to push it to the next level.


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