As a high school athlete some 40 years ago, my coaches seared into my psyche the importance of being aware of what was happening "away from the ball." In fact, they diligently trained me to not only be attentive to that activity, but to use it to my/our advantage as I reacted athletically to the ebb and flow of a contest.
Most folks, players included, tend to keep their eye "on the ball," where the action is most intense. To be sure, regardless of the sport, the ball is where the action is usually centered (if there is a ball involved in the sport, that is).
Wisely, however, my coaches taught me (through hours and hours of practice) that what was going on away from the ball was just as important to our success as what was going on in the vicinity of the ball. It is away from the ball that great blocks are made, passing lanes are opened, diversions can be deployed, and strategic movements initiated.
I did not expect this concept to transfer to other portions of my life so readily.
What I didn't realize at the time was that the concept of paying close attention to what was going on "away from the ball" would also be a powerful skill for me as a father, as an organizational member, and as a leader of others. A tremendous amount of effort and action that is critical to our success is happening on the periphery, far "away from the ball."