Take The Bat Off Your Shoulder

By Chuck Violand

December 19, 2016

Having grown up in Northeast Ohio, where I continue to live, it was a pretty exciting time this past fall when the Cleveland Indians played in the World Series. While it was disappointing to see the Tribe eventually fall to the Chicago Cubs in seven amazing games, we prefer to view the outcome as “letting” the Cubbies win so they could break their 108-year-old World Series drought. In Northeast Ohio, we’re all about giving.

In business, this is the time of year to reflect on what we’ve accomplished over the past twelve months, and to set goals for what we want to achieve in the coming year. Just as in baseball, where you can’t get to the World Series by standing in the batter’s box with the bat resting on your shoulder, you can’t win in business by watching opportunities pass you by.

Business, like baseball, is a mental game before it’s a physical one. It’s about preparation and mental discipline. We can have all the talent and physical ability in the world, but if our heads aren’t in the game, we’re not going to go very far.

When opportunities presented themselves this past year, did we take a solid cut at them … or did we stand there with the bat on our shoulder because we weren’t prepared?

Did we muster the courage to take advantage of the opportunity that was “juuuust a bit outside” our comfort zone?

Did we anticipate some of the curve balls that were thrown our way? After all, for those in disaster restoration, isn’t that a curve ball business? Rather than being caught off guard, were we prepared?

You don’t have to try to hit a home run with every swing of the bat. Sometimes, just putting the ball in play is all that’s needed. To consistently spank singles out of the infield and move the runners around the bases; to steal a base; to lay down a well-timed bunt; to take advantage of an opponent’s error.

Did we take a solid swing at the pitches we were thrown, or did we stand there with the bat on our shoulder hoping for a walk or risking a called third strike? Nobody ever succeeded in the batter’s box with the bat resting on his shoulder. And we can’t expect to succeed in business if we don’t step up to the plate and take a swing. After all, sometimes you have to risk failure in an attempt to succeed.

A 95-mile-per-hour fastball gives the batter approximately four-tenths of a second to recognize it and decide whether or not it’s the pitch he wants—just slightly more than the time it takes to blink your eye. Fortunately, most business opportunities allow a little more time for us to recognize them and decide whether or not they’re right for us.

What are you doing in the coming year to prepare yourself to better recognize opportunities being thrown your way? Do you have a firm grip on the bat? Have you scouted your competitors as well as your customers to see what pitches they’re going to throw you or the opportunities they’ll offer up? Are you mentally and physically prepared to take a solid cut at the ones that are right for you and your business? Just as in baseball, there’s very little to lose by taking that swing … and a lot to be gained.