The Dip


One of the things that I enjoy doing outside of work is coaching high school indoor volleyball. I grew up playing it (a lot!) and to this day, I get out on Tuesday nights to play. But in the last couple of years, the opportunity to coach has arisen and I’ve learned that I love it.

One area that I find myself addressing a lot with the athletes that I’ve coached is serving. It’s such a crucial part of the game, but it doesn’t carry with it a lot of panache unless you’re jump serving, which most high school kids don’t do. As a result, teaching proper serving technique isn’t always met with enthusiasm. The kids just don’t care about it.

But it’s a fundamental skill and it’s the ONE time in the sport of volleyball that you are completely in control of the action you’re performing without any outside influence. It’s also one of the best ways to take another team completely out of the game. By serving tough and effectively, you can undermine the other teams ability to attack the ball back at you.

But young athletes don’t see that. And their reluctance to change their serve is compounded by the fact that when they try to do it differently the first time (and for many times after that), they actually tend to be less controlled and perhaps don't get the same results…for a little while.

In other words, they go through a dip in performance.

But the kids that push through the dip and understand the end goal - those kids that are mature enough to recognize the potential for vast improvement and the possibility to significantly help their team from the serving line, accept and push through the dip in order to serve more accurately with a much higher degree of difficulty than before.

It occurred to me on the weekend that that is a perfect picture of branding.

Too many people are either: comfortable doing it the way they always have (which, in the case of branding, is often not at all), focused on silver bullet solutions that drive sales up temporarily but create no long-lasting affiliation to the brand, or, are unappreciative of how great and lasting the gains can be when you allow for the dip.

But as I tell my athletes, those aren’t reasons to not go through the dip. They’re excuses. They reflect a lack of discipline, and no commitment to long-term success.

Whatever the dip is for your organization - whether it's an increased investment in your branding, or a potential drop in sales - allow for the dip. Sure, you might want to strategize around it to mitigate it's impact (for instance, I'll bring in a sub to serve for that athlete while they are figuring their serve out), but either way, allow for it! Use it to gather momentum and come out of the other side ready to win in both the short, and the long term.

Andrew VanderPloeg
Andrew VanderPloeg Guest Blogger, Consultant

Andrew served at Bark for over 20 years before recently taking over the role of Vice President of Marketing & Communications at ShareWord, one of our favorite organizations.