We just wrapped up another baseball season here in Southern Utah and, overall it was a great season. In fact, I coach my two oldest boys’ teams and both teams are good. Both teams are strong.
They did a lot of things right this year. They learned a ton. But, there is one thing that I really had to work with them on and that is of never striking out looking.
I can understand a strike out. It happens to the best players in the world but one thing that is so difficult for me to see is when an opposing pitcher throws a strike and my team just stands there and looks at it. They don’t even make an attempt to swing at the ball. It’s infuriating.
They might get out but, if they don’t swing at strikes they’re guaranteed to.
And, as I was working on the patience that is required to coach 8 and 9 year old boys, it got me thinking how often I’ve watched opportunities pass me by because I’m unprepared or caught like a deer in the headlights. How often have you passed up opportunities? How often do we miss what could have been a chance for us to do something great if only we were in the position take a swing.
It’s got me thinking about why we do this and, more importantly, how we can avoid doing it in the future.
Let’s talk about why we look when we should swing.
First, it comes down to a lack of preparation. Professional baseball players spend their entire lives focusing on the mechanics of swinging. The best players focus even on the mechanics of pitching so they can better understand the wind-up of a pitcher, the arm movement, the release, the spin of the ball, and so much more to give themselves that much better of a chance.
But, what do we do in our daily lives? We don’t prepare like that. We do everything the exact same way we’ve always done. We never look for efficiencies because we’re too stuck in our ways. We don’t look for opportunities to improve or take on a new project because it’s “not our responsibility.”
So, for example, when that job promotion becomes available, we aren’t even considered because we haven’t been doing the work required to perform in that new position.
Every single moment. Every single conversation. Every single encounter or interaction is an opportunity to prepare for what is coming.
The second component of this is fear. We are so afraid of looking ridiculous that we won’t even put ourselves in the ball game. Look, I get it, baseball – as is life – is difficult. It’s scary. People are going to have their eyes on you. They’re going to be watching you, especially as you’re working on becoming the man you are mean to be.
But, what we fail to realize is that when we try to keep from sabotaging ourselves, we end up sabotaging ourselves. If you swing, you might miss. If you don’t, you’re guaranteed to.
If you haven’t already, go read Teddy Roosevelt’s speech, The Man in the Arena.
It will tell you everything you need to know.
So, lack of preparation and fear keep us from swinging. But what is it that we need to do in order to be in the position and have the desire to swing.
UNDERSTAND THE RULES
First and foremost, you’ve got to understand the rules of the game you’re playing. And, I know a lot of people are going to say that life isn’t a game. I know it is but there are rules to this experience we call life. Some of them are written, most of them aren’t.
Imagine if you tried investing without knowing what interest was or even how the stock market work, even to a small degree. You’re going to get blindsided with fees and losses and, it’s going to keep you from trying it again.
You might even attempt to blame the loss on someone else – your advisor, or the president, or the economy and while there may be some validity to that, there wasn’t anything keeping you from learning the rules. In fact, you’re probably listening to this podcast on a device that gives you access to a lifetime of information, our friend Google.
FIND A COACH
Outside of Google, it is possible and highly recommended that you consider hiring a coach to help you learn the rules and swing when appropriate.
I have a business coach and multiple fitness coaches. At one point I even had a life coach. Each one of these coaches taught me something about some element of life and help me understand the game a bit more so I knew when to swing and when not to.
Our brotherhood, The Iron Council is a prime example of this. I have individual coaching clients. All of these men are attempting to learn something they don’t already know and shorten the learning curve in doing it.
DON’T LISTEN TO THE CROWD
But, the other side of this is that there are those who would like to see you fail. When you’re standing in the batter’s box, the catcher might be whispering things in your ear. You’ll probably hear the crowd behind you. Some of them are there to cheer you on and others are there to revel in your failure.
You have to have the ability to discern who is helping and who isn’t. They’re telling you when to swing, when it’s a ball, and when it’s a strike but, if you stop and think about it, they have no idea.
Your mother, however noble her intentions, has never stood in the batter’s box. She might be telling you things that will keep you safe (that’s her job) but she isn’t telling you things that will help you win.
That’s your coach’s job.
Outside that, it’s practice. The only thing that is going to help you recognize when to swing and when not to is to look at a boat-load of pitches.
There is nothing that replicated real-world implementation of the things you and your coach have been learning.
There might be a couple boys who give up on baseball this year because they didn’t do as well as they would have liked.
But, the ones that stick around – the ones that get the most pitches – are the ones who will learn the most and find a way to grow and thrive.
Keep taking the at-bats, keep learning on your own, keep hiring coaches, and keep swinging!