First Inning Business and Baseball Lesson: It’s a Long Season

No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference. ~ Tommy Lasorda

The Major League Baseball season stretches from April to September, and includes 162 regular season games. And that doesn’t include pre-season spring training scrimmages or October playoff match-ups. With each game lasting an approximate 2.5 hours, that’s a lot of time on the diamond!

What happens in the first inning of the first game in the spring training pre-season has little bearing on who the pennant winner will be. The season lasts a long, long time. By the time the season wraps up, the average batter has been in the box over 500 times. Sometimes they get a hit, but more often, they get out. But that first time up to bat doesn’t set the tone for their season — unless they let it.

Baseball PitcherFor the entrepreneur and small business communicator, business is the same way. While any one “pitch,” customer interaction, or promotion may seem of the utmost importance — and it is, at that moment — but in the overall scheme of things, it is only one piece of a larger mosaic. Yes, great players play hard every pitch, but they also know how to pace themselves and shake off a missed strike and move ahead.

And in business, you need that perspective too. Yes, you want to hit a home run each and every time you are at bat, and you want to make a play every time the game comes your way, but chances are you are going to flub a few easy pop-ups, and miss a few easy strikes. That’s just the nature of the game.

Sometimes, your perfectly crafted sales page does not convert. Sometimes, an unhappy customer remains unhappy no matter how hard you try to fix the situation. Sometimes, a great product doesn’t sell well. Sometimes you can figure out why, while other times you just have to let it go and move forward, realizing that you will have hundreds of other interactions and opportunities to make your business a winning one.

Baseball BatterTo put things in perspective, the best hitters in baseball typically have a batting average of around .300. That means every ten times they get up to bat, they fail to get on base seven times. And these are the best of the best! Even the venerable Babe Ruth had a lifetime batting average of only .342 – for every 1,000 times he came to the plate, he only hit 342 times. The other 658 times, he either walked or was OUT. But yet, he was one of the greatest players of all time.

As a team, most baseball clubs are striving for a winning season — meaning they win more than they lose, indeed, most teams that make the playoffs every October have records only slightly better than .500 – they lost almost half their games! That should be your goal, too — to win more than you lose. And when you do lose — clients, accounts, mailing list subscribers — dust off your cleats, learn your business lessons from the experience, and try again. That’s how you will succeed year after year.

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