By Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO
June 7, 2023
In an e-mail response to my basketball career editorial, Elliot M. Kirstein, OD, shared an insightful perspective that he observed during his daughter’s numerous games and practices. Throughout those experiences, the coaches would often shout, “Look up!”
These words resonated with Dr. Kirstein, and he explained their significance beyond basketball. He wrote, “ When you walk in the door of your office each day, you cannot be staring at the floor while dribbling the ball. You must see the entire court. You must look at everything and everyone, seeing your practice in ‘the mind’s eye’ of your patients. It’s a habit that works in basketball, the office and in life.”
I thought this was an excellent perspective, and it got me thinking. How else does “looking up,” and not watching the basketball while you are dribbling, apply to running a practice? Certain basketball players possess a talent known as “court sense,” characterized by their ability to be fully aware of what’s happening on the entire court. This gives them an advantage as they can perceive an open teammate making a break for the basket from the corner of their eye, or anticipate an opponent attempting to steal the ball or block a shot. This same player is not being distracted by or reacting to the noise from the crowd. They are very focused on what is developing around them and seeing opportunities while still driving forward. WOW, right?
Running a business is all about this kind of “looking up,” and shares similarities with this basketball reference. Occasionally, it is necessary to direct attention to immediate tasks at hand, much like watching the ball in basketball. However, more often, in a leadership role, it is even more critical to maintain an awareness of one’s surroundings, identify what’s coming and which of these needs a proactive stance, all the while avoiding being distracted by less important matters.
Other Articles to Explore
For instance, as a practice owner, it can be unproductive to exhaust energy and creativity on solving problems as they pop up without considering and looking at the larger picture (the entire basketball court) and the underlying causes for these problems. Similarly, worrying about events five years in the future or being distracted or engrossed by external influences (the crowd) can distract and divert energy and creativity away from issues that can be quickly resolved. I try to spend most of my focus on what is happening between my four walls (the court) and not what everyone else is doing.
So LOOK UP! Focus on the big picture and by doing so, you can identify relevant opportunities, prioritize effectively and allocate resources where they can have the most impact. Just as a basketball player with exceptional court sense possesses an advantage, so does a practice owner who continues to “look up,” and can see what’s developing in front of them, and can navigate their business with clarity and purpose.