I visited Green Bay, WI, this year during the NFL preseason. The Green Bay Packers had open practices for people who wanted to come and watch them practice. I hadn’t done that before and, being a Packer fan, I had to go.
As I watched these players on the field, who I am used to only seeing on TV, I realized that right in front of me were several lessons that I could apply to my life and my business.
The first thing that I noticed was how full the stands were. I didn’t realize how many other people would be there. After all, it was only a practice. The Packer organization was aware of how many were coming, and they were prepared. They had people there to guide us to seats and a system to handle the extra people. There weren’t enough seats to go around.
What I noticed was that, as a professional organization, even though the Packers were running a free event, they hired people to help others in the stands. They also had food to purchase and several tents with activities to entertain people as they waited. All of this was available, even though no money was collected from the observers. The Packers provided a friendly, hospitable environment.
The second thing that stood out to me was how organized everything was. When the Packers hit the field, the scoreboard clock had a time on it. The assistant coaches all knew what was expected of them. The time counted down, and the players did the drills that were assigned them. When the buzzer sounded, they all moved to the next activity.
This demonstrated to me the importance of knowing what you’re going to do and scheduling time to do it. When the time runs out, you’re done and onto the next task or project. You need to be focused on the task at hand. There is no more time to go back and work on the old projects until the next practice. And, in the players’ case, if they aren’t looking good, there may not be a next practice.
I realized that no matter how good you are, it’s important to keep working on getting better. I happened to be sitting at the end of the field where the quarterbacks were practicing. There were two things I noticed. First, in many of the drills, they were throwing to a wide receiver, and for a bit the only wide receiver there to catch from them was Jordy Nelson, the Packers’ #1 wide receiver. He didn’t need this practice, but he was there to get better.
The third thing that stood out was that Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ starting quarterback and one of the best in the league for the past several years, was practicing as hard as the other QBs, who were trying to make the team. Even as the Packers’ starting QB, he was still practicing hard.
This showed me how important it is to constantly learn and improve my game. Though I strive to work at Aaron’s level, I have a ways to go. I need to constantly work and improve my skills so that I stay on top of my game no matter what level I’m working at.
The last major observation I made was how the Packers were all friendly and involved with the fans. The Packers’ practice facility is a quarter mile or so from Lambeau Field and the locker rooms. All of the players interacted with fans lining their path from the stadium to the practice field. One of the traditions is for kids to come to the practice with their bikes and offer the players a chance to ride the bikes to and from practice. There is a line of kids waiting for the players, who ride the bikes while the kids jog alongside as they chat. If the bike is too small for a player, he’ll walk the bike while talking to the kid. The players all seem to enjoy this tradition.
This shows me how important it is to maintain a good relationship with my audience. The amount of time and money required to participate in activities like this is minimal, but the memories it creates for kids and their families is incredible. The Packers are creating lifelong fans.
This inspires ideas for what I can do to create these relationships with my audience.
I had been looking forward to this visit to the Packers practice for a while. What I didn’t expect was how many questions it would bring up for me. Many I had an answer for, but some of the observations reinforced my thoughts that getting better is a never ending adventure.
For instance, I’ve always known I needed to work and improve my skills, but in the back of my mind, I always thought that someday I might not have to keep working as hard. After watching Aaron Rodgers practice, though, I now know that I’ll never stop working on improving.
I’m still mulling over other questions that the visit brought up for me. They are the kind that I will have to think on long and hard before I have answers that work for me.
One last observation is that you can learn wherever you go. Along with knowing which rookies look good this year for the Packers, I also learned many lessons that will move my business forward in the years to come.
Have a great week!