It happens every February.
If you live in the northeast, early February is a pretty bleak time of the year. The holidays are a distant memory, but there’s still a whole lot of winter left. And it’s not the pretty picture of winter you see in Christmas cards with flurries and sleigh rides; it’s black mountains of snow, iced-over windshields, and having to put on several layers before going outside (on both yourself and your children, in my case).
It’s not exactly my favorite time of year. But there is one thing I can count on. Right around Groundhog Day, I know I’m going to get an e-mail from my brother Pat that will provide me with a glimmer of sunshine — no matter how bad the weather is that day.
The e-mail doesn’t say much at all. In fact, sometimes it’s just a photo of a truck — but not just any truck. It’s the 18-wheeler tasked with transporting athletic equipment, gear, and other supplies to the Boston Red Sox training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
Truck day symbolizes the unofficial start of spring training. And perhaps more importantly, for Sox fans like me and Pat, it means a new season. A fresh start. We can finally put to rest the (many) frustrations of the previous season and start from scratch. There’s something so powerful about the ability to close the book on a disappointing period of life — whether it was a bad season, a bad year, or a bad month — and begin a new chapter.
For the Red Sox, the goal in 2013 is to restore a sense of pride in the organization, and win back a fan base that was so disillusioned by disappointing back-to-back seasons that ticket sales in one of the most beloved ballparks in America have actually taken a hit.
Not an easy goal by any stretch. But it’s not impossible either. The team has made strides in the right direction by hiring a manager who is well-liked and respected by the players, and cleaning up the notoriously “toxic clubhouse” by bringing in players who are valued just as much for their character as for their on-field talent.
Now these moves most likely aren’t going to result in a drastic turnaround, but to fans, they offer hope. These moves show that the team is turning the page.
For the rest of us, however, it isn’t always that cut and dry. Much of the time, we may recognize that a situation isn’t working, but we may not know what changes need to be made — or how to implement those changes. It’s not always as simple as trading away players who are talented but temperamental, or launching an apologetic PR campaign, as the Red Sox did.
It’s not always possible to put the previous season in the rearview mirror and start from scratch.
But it is possible — and necessary — to acknowledge when your team is underperforming, and take steps to right the ship. This doesn’t always have to mean cleaning house or shutting down a project that isn’t meeting expectations; instead, it can mean reshuffling the lineup to make sure everyone’s strengths are being fully leveraged, or realigning priorities.
Or maybe it just means taking a breather. Allowing yourself and your team a little time away can remove some of the pressure and enable you to gain a fresh perspective. It’s like that old saying, “Things will look better in the morning.”
Only in my case, things will look better on Truck day.