Tenth Inning – Business and Baseball: The Game Reflects Your Preparation

Free Baseball ~ Ken Singleton*

The difference between a good baseball player and a great one is not that the great one doesn’t make mistakes. What makes him great is that he knows how to handle it when he makes one. ~ Unknown

Major League Baseball Game

When you watch a Major League Baseball game, it can seem like magic. The organ is playing, the crowds are madly cheering, the diamond is groomed just so, and the players are all in the zone. It seems impossible that they can miss a ball or not make it to the base on time to beat the throw from short.

What you don’t see is all the preparation that goes on behind the scenes. The steamy spring training scrimmages under the blistering Florida and Arizona sun. The thousands of swings in the batting cages. The pulled muscles, the locker room pep talks, the sweat, the pain. What you see is the best of the best – after all the hard work is done. The three hours of game time are only a small part of the professional baseball player’s day in day out 8 – 10 hour routine.

For us, business works the same. When you see someone’s “perfect” website, or watch their seamless launch, what we don’t see is, like the baseball player, the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it. You see the beautiful product displays, not the clogged toilets, piles of spreadsheets, and hours upon hours of hard work.

Transfer this to your own endeavor: Any professional athlete will tell you that you’re only as good as your preparation. If you don’t practice hard, you can’t play hard. And if you don’t play hard, you won’t win.

How much effort you are willing to dedicate to the background work of your business will determine how far you will go. Everyone from Bill Gates to Steve Jobs to David Ortiz to Alex Rodriguez knows that it’s the hours that you put in off the field that determine how far you go on the field.

To be a success in business, you have to be willing to:

  • Practice. Do dry-runs of your processes to make sure they work.
  • Listen to your coach. Accept feedback from your mentors and coaches without getting defensive. They’re just trying to make you the best you can be.
  • Try new things. Adjust your grip on the bat, try a new marketing angle, and take a few risks in a practice game to see how it works.
  • Work with your teammates. Team spirit grows from the hours on the practice field, in the dugout, and in the locker room BETWEEN games. What can you do to create a spirit of teamwork with your employees before you’re under the gun?

While playing to a crowd can be invigorating, exciting, and motivating, the real motivation must come from within. Remember that character is how you act when no one is looking – and character is what makes a real winner.

* Ken Singleton, former Baltimore Orioles star and New York Yankees broadcaster calls baseball after the regulation nine innings, “Free baseball” since people only pay to see nine innings, but if the game is tied after nine, they keep playing until one team or the other wins – at no additional charge.

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