« February 2010 | Main | April 2010 »

2 posts from March 2010

March 16, 2010

This time, it has to be right

OK, Gary Barta, no more mulligans. This time, you have to get it right. You've got to find the right basketball coach.

Todd Lickliter, Barta's choice for the position three years ago, obviously didn't work for the Hawkeyes. Whether you agree with his action or not -- I was leaning toward giving Lickliter one more season -- give Barta credit for this: He didn't try to spin Lickliter's dismissal as a resignation or a mutual parting of ways or some other nebulous term. He called it what it was -- a firing. And in letting Lickliter go, Barta admitted he made a mistake. He didn't get the right guy for the job.

I agree with Des Moines Register columnist Sean Keeler on this point: In trying to find the anti-Steve Alford, Barta probably went too far in the other direction in tapping Lickliter. People were fed up with Alford's arrogance and many were upset with his handling of the Pierre Pierce incidents. In Lickliter, Barta found someone who was honest, sincere, modest, a coach who had integrity and played by the rules. All admirable qualities. But Lickliter seemed uncomfortable in the spotlight that goes with coaching in the Big Ten and lacked charisma. In the end, that hurt him.

I'm not saying Iowa needs to hire a wise-cracking funnyman. The school doesn't need a coach who paints his body for a big women's game. The new coach doesn't necessarily have to show his emotions as openly as Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads.

But Iowa does need a coach who can rally the troops, someone who's comfortable on the banquet circuit, who can schmooze with donors, who can relate with students and get them interested in Hawkeye basketball again. Oh yes, he also needs to be able to recruit better players than what this team has now.

Speaking of those players, I got a little tired of their whining at the end of the season. If you're tired of losing and basketball isn't fun anymore, who's fault is that? How about playing a little harder? Work harder at improving. Take better shots. Try guarding somebody. Hey, life isn't always fun. Sometimes you have to suck it up and look for ways to make things better. That starts with looking in the mirror, not quitting on your coach.

As for style of play, I don't think Iowa has to do a total about-face and play racehorse basketball. You certainly can't call Wisconsin a racehorse team, but the Badgers play good defense, they're sound fundamentally and, the most important thing, they win. That's what keeps the fans coming back.

But a little more aggressiveness on defense by the Hawkeyes would help. They don't have to press all the time, ala Tom Davis, but clamp on a press once in a while, spring some half-court traps, do something to get some steals, create some cheap baskets and disrupt the other team's rhythm.

So the pressure's on, Gary Barta. If this choice flops, the next time reporters start figuring out how much a buyout would cost, it might be yours.

March 11, 2010

What do you do when you're feeling stuck?

That's the question posed over a week ago by a LinkedIn group member who recently left her post after 15 years in the non-profit arena. Before that she was a successful business owner. While she says her sense of humor is intact, she admits that she's turned "procrastination and lack of motivation into something of an art form." She asked for input on getting unstuck and I'm sharing a few of the comments her post received on the LinkedIn site of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).

"Being stuck is a state of mind, and sadly, it reflects a focus on the self," writes Stefany Almaden, president/CEO of The Almaden Group, Inc. "The best cure for being stuck is to look around, enjoy what you have, and think about how you can make a difference in someone else's life. Instant joy and satisfaction follow." She says work on this every day and you'll pull yourself together. One day you'll even wonder why someone would think they could be "stuck in life."

Nannette Rundle Carroll, author of The Communication Problem Solver, also suggests doing something for someone else, particularly someone you think might be stuck or down. "It gets us out of ourselves and being productive and compassionate is a great cure for the blues or being stuck.

Nuggets for me: The only person who can get me unstuck is me; It's my mental state that needs attention. It's an ongoing daily practice to stay off the pity pot, and focusing on the needs of others helps to reframe my thinking and find a fresh perspective.

Judith Wentzel, owner of EFT Coaching & Consulting LLC, uses and teaches EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) to remove blocks. Judy says to look at a goal or something that's important to you, find out what's sabotaging or holding you back from achieving it, and then get rid of it. It's the negative emotions (frustration, sadness, feelings of being alone, etc.) that perpetuate what's blocking us. "Once you identify the emotions undermining your success to move forward, you can begin resolving them."  

Sounds simple enough when the "stuck" things are little mental obstacles to overcome, but how about identifying and removing major emotional blocks? One may need ongoing coaching, years of therapy, or a whole lot more (including more non-traditional techniques [How about past life regression?]) to get to the root of the issues that lock you in serious "stuckness."

If I'm slightly stuck (for me that's writing copy that's not flowing the way I would like), I might close my eyes, put a smile on my face and spend 40 seconds taking a few deep breaths. Then I'll rub my hands together (I'm still smiling), face the computer screen and look for ways to change the problematic sections of copy. I may even get out of my chair and office, go consume a piece for fruit, and try to empty my mind by staring at the electric kettle while it warms water for my next cup of tea. Sometimes I'll do yoga stretches, stand up and swing my arms side-to-side to shake up my body and brain, or go outside for a quick walk that focuses on hearing the birds or looking for deer antlers in the woods (if it's the right time of year).

But when I'm deeply stuck I struggle. I might get together (face-to-face, on the phone and sometimes even email) with someone who'll listen and might point out what I'm missing. And sometimes "telling it" reveals what's needed next; the words come out of my own mouth or are typed by me. I recently was given the image of carrying around a backpack full of angst, fears, pains and frustrations. It was up to me: I could get rid of them once and for all, or I could continue to walk around with the weight of the world on my shoulders. I buried it. Then I smiled for days and days. Now, whenever I feel that weight again, I acknowledge it. Then I mentally deposit anything "new" that's giving me mental grief into that backpack. And finally, I picture my burying it again. I dig the hole a little deeper each time. One of these days it will decompose.

That's my answer to what I do when I'm really feeling stuck. Which brings me to another question: What are you carrying around in your backpack?