Anticipate, Then Act

When I became a mother, my mom told me to consciously anticipate what our growing daughter might do next. As a toddler, would she reach for the stove? Would she rub her eyes with sandy hands while playing in the sand box? My mother was a wise woman and her advice continues to serve me well.

There are times in life when keeping our eye on the kids, or whatever ball is bouncing in front of us, is not enough. We need to develop good peripheral vision and estimate the logical outcome of the actions around us. If the realistic result is not positive, intervention is needed.

A college basketball referee served as a great example in a 2013 ACC men’s game. Duke was playing Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. In this particular game, FSU was over-matched and some of their players were getting frustrated – and their frustration began to show in their actions. As any sports fan knows, player interaction can become explosive if bad choices (or lack of good choices) are allowed to continue.

One of the referees, Karl Hess, put his arm around the waist of an FSU player who had committed a foul. They leaned toward each other to communicate above the din. The ref did not look angry, but looked the player in the eye and spoke firmly and directly. There was no finger-pointing.

Early in the second half, the score became even more lop-sided. Duke was ahead, with a score of 50 to 25. Frustration was becoming palpable. Karl Hess pulled over two players for a conference, one from each team.  

The Duke player in this huddle knew the frustration of being on the losing side of a deep point deficit. Nine days earlier, a Miami University team had blown Duke away in a different game in Florida.

In the ref’s impromptu huddle with the FSU and Duke players, the body language of each athlete was respectful as the ref talked to them. Then, the two players walked to their positions and there were no further issues in the game.  

Sometimes intervention is required to keep a situation from getting off-track. I am grateful for anyone who is willing to step in and diffuse a difficult relationship, bringing respect and perspective. We need this at work, in athletic competitions, in government, in classrooms, in churches, and in families. 

Are you paying attention? Is it time to intervene?

Until we meet again, 

The Entrepreneur’s Friend

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The Entrepreneur’s Friend® is a registered trademark of Wheaton Consulting Group LLC.   Photo credits: All photos were taken by Cynthia Wheaton and owned by Wheaton Consulting Group LLC except as noted. Coffee cup art by Jim Wheaton.   Author support: Fellow authors from The Wrinklings and Light of Carolina Christian Writers Group.