Strike Out Swinging

Every year, alongside the veterans, a fresh group of ballplayers make their way to the Cactus League or the Grapefruit League for a shot at making it to The Show. Most won’t make it; but they’re all there driven by the belief that they will. That’s their job, their career, and so they work their butts off to leave it all on the field and know that they gave their dreams the best shot.

It would be great if every employee approached their careers like spring training. If at least annually they took a shot at playing up. Instead, way too many never even try to take a swing.

The single biggest obstacle to fulfilling true potential, to making it to The Show, isn’t the pain-in-the-ass manager, the uninspired co-workers or the demands of your personal life. It’s you. 

People talk themselves out of greatness. They settle. They play small ball. They aren’t challenged or fulfilled. They aren’t happy. But they aren’t really trying. They may be A players on a C team. And they refuse to see that by settling they’re holding themselves back from something more.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that it’s often the smartest, most capable people who settle the most. It may be that their intelligence and their ability to foresee the possible complications associated with change stymies them. It may be that as they work through the logistics of their options and see the costs associated with doing something new, they become unwilling to step into the unknown. Some begin to work through the gap analysis and get lost there without ever reaching the other side. Still others talk and talk, but never move. All they can see is that they might strike out.

And so, people just stand there. They don’t do the hard, introspective, often painful work of setting goals, assessing their capabilities and their capacity, and creating a plan for more.

Decisions aren’t black and white––opportunities come with costs, and rewards are almost always accompanied by risk. It may seem as though there’s no risk in the status quo, but never moving often results in the highest cost of all.

Ty Cobb posted a .366 career batting average, the best in the history of the League, but more than six of every ten times he stepped to the plate he failed to get a hit. Pete Rose, who had 4,256 hits in his career, also had 1,143 strikeouts.

Sometimes, it makes sense to watch the ball sail by, to take the walk. But there are only so many Opening Days, only so many seasons to start anew.

This season, set your personal Opening Day. Take a deep breath, then take a long, uncompromising look at yourself. What are you good at? What matters most to you? What inspires you? Until you can say what making it to The Show means to you, you’ll never know if you’ve made it.

Starting is progress. Momentum is good. Stimulating the conversation in your head, envisioning a more directed path, then writing it down will give you the confidence to move forward.

So step into the box, fix a steely-eye on the pitcher and take a swing. Don’t be left in the dugout wondering what could have been. There’s one thing we all know, if you don’t swing you’ll never get a hit.

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