When I was a kid, I used to bowl on Saturday mornings. The cool of the air conditioning. The heat of the competition. The arc of the the ball. The crash of the pins. Loved it! And, because it was in the era of manual score keeping, if I got to the lanes early enough, I could score for the league and earn free games for myself!
As a kid who loved to bowl, free bowling was living the high life!
The AINF – The All Important Ninth Frame
Not to get too wonky about it, of the 10 ‘frames’ of a game, I always felt that the 9th frame was the most important. (In college, the beer frames became more important, but I don’t want to digress.)
‘Marking’ in the 9th (getting a spare or a strike) set the stage for a strong finish in the 10th and could do some awesome things to my score. Let me explain:
Say I got 8 pins in the 9th. My score would then increase by 8. But, if I got a strike in the 9th, and then followed it up with two more strikes in the 10th, my score in the 9th would increase by 30, plus I’d get a bonus roll to finish out the 10th, as well! So finishing the game with 4 strikes would increase my score by 60 points!
Too wonky?! Sorry.
Suffice it to say that the ability to add 60 points to one’s score was huge. That’s why I always referred to the 9th frame as the AINF – the All Important Ninth Frame. I’d even change the frame number on the score sheet so I wouldn’t forget:
Your Leadership AINF
So why am I telling you this? Why is the AINF relevant to a leadership development blog? (Why thank you for asking!)
It’s relevant because you’re in your work-year AINF right now! This is the time of year where you ‘set up’ so many things to follow:
- TASK MANAGEMENT
- It’s the time of year when you start (or certainly should start if you haven’t already) working on your year-end deliverables, in earnest
- It’s the time of you when you start (or certainly should start if you haven’t already) working on formulating your plans for next year
- It’s the time of year when you start (or certainly should start if you haven’t already) working on your next year’s budget
- PEOPLE MANAGEMENT
- It’s the time of year when you start (or certainly should start if you haven’t already) working on your year-end employee reviews
- It’s the time of year when you start (or certainly should start if you haven’t already) increasing your internal and external networking (Why? Because you’ve let this lapse, again, haven’t you?!)
- It’s the time of year when you start (or certainly should start if you haven’t already) working on your own year-end review (in preparation for your conversation with your boss)
- It’s the time of year (or certainly should start if you haven’t already) working on how you want to grow your impact and influence beyond what they already are (Why? See the networking comment, above.)
Take a moment and consider what other TASK MANAGEMENT, PEOPLE MANAGEMENT, AND SELF-MANAGEMENT activities are (or should be) in your AINF. I’m sure you’ve got some.
Getting a Leg Up on Things
As a leader, you are, in very real terms, a professional problem-solver. And if you’re doing your job right, most of the problems you face are complex ones that no one else in your organization can solve. This is a variation of that. Unlike so many of the problems you typically face, though, these issues come with advance notice. By treating this time of year as something more than just any other time of year – by treating it as your AINF – you set the stage for a strong finish to your year.
But as we used to say on the lane, “You’ve got to STRIKE quickly. There’s not a moment to SPARE!”