Square Up!

When I played a lot of basketball, I was a pretty damn good shooter.  I can still knock down free throws like it’s nobody’s business and shooting from 20 feet in I can tickle the twine.  My father was a coach.  I can remember being in the driveway and him yelling at me to “Square up to the basket son!” as I pulled into a jumper.  He’d tell me that every time.  I can still hear it ringing in my ears.  He’d tell me, “If you aren’t square, your shot will be off and you will miss.”

The other weekend when I played in Sam’s Game, I was trying to square myself up as I set up for my “jumper”.  I noticed consistently one leg was in front of the other.  My right hip is lower than my left, and it sticks out about 2 inches more forward than the left one.

I have been doing Iyengar Yoga for around 3 years now.  I notice my left side is really a lot different than my right.  One day I was laying on the floor and I finally noticed how out of whack my hips were.  I knew there was something amiss because I walk with a bit of a limp.  One leg is shorter than the other.  But, it’s the way my muscles and bones are situated, not a birth defect.  Everyone’s body is crooked in some way.

My father could yell at me all he wanted about squaring up, but because my body was structurally unable to square up in a textbook style, there was nothing we could do about it.

Squaring up all of a sudden has become a metaphor for me for managing people.  I think there is a lot to learn from my experience in Iyengar Yoga and shooting.  I think C-level people can internalize it and manage teams more efficiently.

Suppose you are disconnecting with an employee or fellow worker.  Consistently, the gears aren’t meshing.  But, you know they should.  The more you fight and try to set up processes to mediate it, the more frustrating things become.  Eventually, things spin out of control and it affects the whole company.  Nerves and emotions are raw.  In a startup they often never heal.

But, perhaps everyone was going about it the wrong way.  Instead of looking at surface issues, maybe it’s something deeper.  Maybe the cause of the friction is structural.  That’s often hard to uncover and a whole different can of worms when it comes out.

Leading with emotional intelligence is just that though.

It’s uncovering core issues that might be raw and really dealing with them.  Instead of being vulnerable and weak, there becomes a platform of support and people feel safe to take risks and do things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.   Companies that do this do better than companies that don’t.

My friend Raman Chadha has been teaching this sort of management style to companies in Chicago for at least four years now.  He’s starting to expand his program and move it to LA.  The Junto Institute company grads are tripling top line revenue in a lot of cases.

On February 23 from 4pm to 6pm, we are going to do a special happy hour at NextSpace in Chicago together. Sign up here.
It’s free. It’s convenient to get to. We will have some beer and snacks.  You can meet Raman and some of his team-and possibly some graduates of his program.  Hope you will join us.

You will learn how to square up your company.