Nuggets of Wisdom

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By Kirk McCarley,

Kirk Mccarley

As a Career and Life Coach often metaphorical references emerge that can more effectively illustrate thoughts and ideas to clients.  Given my participation and involvement in athletics, often parallels emanate from personal experience, thinking back to athletic coaches I have either played for or observed.  Years later their lessons are still practical in not only sports, but life, work, and relationships.

“Focus on getting a base hit; the home runs will come.”  

Baseball heroes in my little league days were the sluggers:  Hank Aaron and Willie Mays are two who come to mind.

The coaches of that day antithetically preached base hits.  “The home runs will come, make solid contact first.”  

Tony Gwynn was an all-star 15 times in his 20 year career.  He led the National League in hits seven times.  His career batting average was an unprecedented .338.  Yet, he averaged just under seven home runs per season throughout his career.  Aaron and Mays would sometimes hit that many in a couple of weeks.  The tireless Gwynn was the epitome of fundamental excellence and effectiveness.

How many times does a manager encourage her sales force to “not worry about hitting home runs, just make solid contact,” meaning work your leads, provide outstanding follow up, and don’t overpromise.  In parenting, a simple lunch with your adolescent daughter may well mean more than tickets to Taylor Swift.  The thoughtful gesture of a handwritten thank you note to a member of your staff who went above and beyond has immeasurable value.

“Lots will come; few will stay.”

The head basketball coach my freshman year in high school was a legend.  A notorious taskmaster, he demanded excellence, even during the most mundane fundamental drills.  Often during practices he would share philosophical commentary, pertinent not only on the basketball court but as time has affirmed in life as well.

One exercise designed to develop quickness and enhance reactions consisted of players aligning in rows and responding as commands were barked, “stand, squat, sit down, backs, bellies, pushups, etc.,” in rapid fire order.

Often, while on our backs we were required to lift our feet six inches off the ground, the much-feared leg lifts, the purpose being to strengthen core muscles.  Legs lifted 30, then 40 or more seconds as abdominals tightened and began screaming in pain, he waded through our configuration.

“Lots will come, few will stay,” he bellowed.  Though memories of the juvenile pain of those days of drills many years ago have faded, the pertinence of those six words to life still resonate.  What about difficult times in our marriages and relationships?  Perhaps there is a challenging boss or co-worker.  To this day, those words are still an encouragement to fight on, when I would rather quit.

“Make them play our game.”  In basketball, years ago before “shot clocks,” it was not uncommon for teams to “let the air out of the ball.”  Figuratively that meant slowing the pace of the game through relying on pinpoint passing, only attempting a shot when chances of conversion were extremely high.  This approach was often deployed by an inferior opponent as an equalizer to a higher-powered adversary.

Establishing cadence and rhythm have applications in the business world.  I coach interviewing clients to slow down the pace of their speaking, finding comfort with pause and even silence to find a groove.  As potential buyers of products or services, we sometimes encounter salespeople who want us to “buy right there and then.”  The deal that is “only going to be available at this price for the next 24 hours,” could be a lure best worth reconsidering.

What does getting on base, stick to it-ness, and setting a pace mean to you?  What adages from a coach, teacher, parent, mentor have influenced you?

A graduate of the University of North Texas, Kirk McCarley is a Certified Professional Coach as well as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM-CP Certified. He also is a Production Assistant for both college football and basketball for ESPN and leads group cycling classes as a Certified Spinning instructor. Contact,, or call  314-677-8779.

Seed Sower

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