Standing up. Hands on my hips. Incredulous. I was fuming.

It was 2006 and I was coaching high school basketball. One of my star players had just taken the ball on a hard dribble drive to the hoop across the court from me. Jade stood 5’10 and had a rare ability to get to the hoop for her stature.

The whistle blows. Foul. I clapped thinking that Jade was headed to the free throw line. To my surprise and dismay, she had been called for an offensive charge foul.

I started barking at the referee. Andy was a veteran ref; a great guy and still a good friend. Luckily, he allowed me to vent just enough to the point where he said firmly, “Coach, sit down.”

That weekend, I sat down with the game film to review our work. The camera recording the action was always at mid court at the very top of the bleachers to get the best angle. As the play in question came up, my immediate thought was , “Here comes the play; I can show this to Andy to prove my point.”

Not so fast, Coach.

What I hadn’t been able to see from my vantage point about 60 feet away was that an opposing player standing all of about 5’4 had stepped in between Jade and the hoop. She courageously took the charge from a much taller and stronger opponent. Andy called it correctly.

(And yes, I had to come clean and eat crow, for which Andy playfully reminds me of every time I see him on the golf course.)

This weekend, I was assiduously watching the National Women’s NCAA semi-final game between Iowa and Connecticut from the comfort of my couch. With 3.9 seconds left in the game and UConn with the ball and a chance to win the game, they were called for an offensive foul while trying to set a screen. The many replays shown seemed to indicate that it was a clean screen. The announcers and analysts were certain of it. Social media erupted with indignity and bluster.

My opinion was the exact same. It wasn’t a foul; rather a bad call in the moment. It appeared that the ref might have been swayed by how the defender bounced off the screen (my implication was that she “sold it”).

Fast forward to the next morning. I watched the “film” from the opposite side at court level. One that had a much better angle of the play, and hadn’t been shown on the national telecast.

It was a foul. No question. The opposite side view clearly showed the offensive player moving illegally and the “bounce” from the defender was due to the fact that she was probably five inches and 30 pounds lighter! Just like Andy, the referee, who had the correct angle, made the correct call.

It’s all about angles.

That statement isn’t just true about basketball or sports. It’s true in business and life. We all have our “angles.” They are called decisions, opinions, personal beliefs, and business motivations. Our worldview is shaped from where and how we grew up, the people who influenced is, the events we experienced (good, bad, tragic, joyful and everything in between), and the scar tissue we earned.

It’s easy for anyone to point out how you failed or are in the wrong (and I use the collective “you” here). Coming from just one angle, people can be critical, judgmental, and unkind. Social media is famous for its level of meanness often leveled without considering all the angles.

Three thoughts for you:

First, if you took the wrong angle, admit it. It’s human and it’s the right thing to do. My mea culpa went to Andy and then on my Facebook post from the day before. We can all jump to conclusions, but let’s try to get it right in the end.

Second, before jumping to conclusions, check out all the angles to confirm or qualify your opinion.

Finally, don’t let anyone else dictate how to make decisions, take actions, or form opinions. If you make the best decision or opinion in that moment based on the information you have, that’s the best you can do. Just make sure you’ve done all you could to get the best information first.

And very often, that means checking all the angles.

Keep Chasing Unleashed.

Quote of the Week:

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” 

~ President Franklin D. Roosevelt

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