What Businesses Can Learn From Baseball

The Tigers

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My son plays baseball for a local youth team and has been at the sport since he was little.  His team is called the Tigers, and they are a great group of young men.  After the first practice, I honestly thought that this season was going to head right down the toilet.  It just didn't look promising.  Basic skills, like catching and throwing, were mostly non-existent, and hitting the ball seemed to be reserved for the older boys on the team.

We are now most of the way through the season and there have been some great moments, and some not so great moments.  Progress has been outstanding though. 

 

The team is comprised of a handful of older boys and some kids that have just come up from lower levels.  The expectation is that the older kids would take on a leadership role and mentor the newbies.  I think that is the hope for most professions as well. 

Practicing hard and putting out the effort will always yield results.  Team practices are for getting better as a team, collectively.  Individual skills should be practiced on their own time.  The same will always apply in the real world, regardless of profession.  Even if you are a one-man operation, practicing your skills is something you do when you are not working directly with a client.  You never want to try something different, new, or unproven in the middle of a game.

Essential Skills

Since the beginning of the season, all of the coaches, myself included, had been working with the team on fundamentals of fielding the ball, batting, and field awareness, among other things. We have constantly spoken to the team about bringing their focus, a positive attitude and good energy to the field.  We have also spoken to them about minimizing mistakes, since baseball is really a game where the team who makes the fewest errors will usually win.

A Rude Awakening

The other night, things weren't pretty.  The boys had a few minor successes, but exhaustion, fear and depression took over.  One mistake led to another, then another and so on.  With heads hung low, they looked and acted defeated, and the game wasn't even over yet.  When you look and act defeated, you are defeated.  The other team seized the opportunity, capitalized on us being demoralized, and put the final nails in the coffin.  We lost 14-10.

Post Game Analysis

This situation should be somewhat relatable for you.  Having good energy and a positive attitude will carry you far.  Your colleagues will feed off of that energy, and your clients will too!  This goes to the very heart of personal branding.  It's not only about the message you put out there, or the vision for your product or service.  Your personal and/or corporate brand is based on how you make people feel!

I have always been a big proponent of sportsmanship.  No matter if you win or lose, be a good sport about it.  There is never a reason to shrug off the congratulations or well wishes from a teammate, opponent or competitor.  You don't have to hand them the keys to the castle or fawn all over them, but being cordial, congratulatory and kind is respectable and will speak volumes about your character, your brand, and how you conduct yourself and your business.

It's amazing how eye opening a youth baseball game can be.  We can learn a lot from these young kids.

Let's put things in perspective:  The Tigers have a winning record right now, despite the performance in the last game.  They have improved drastically since the start of the season, and have been working on coming together as a team.  There is always room for improvement, but sometimes it takes a small step backward to take 2 steps forward.

Taking a step back is usually a good idea.  When you are hammering away at your tasks or goals with all your energy, you tend to lose sight of the bigger picture.  Failure and regression is a natural occurrence in competition as well as business.  A bit of reflection and a moment to regroup is necessary in order to progress further.  

Its remarkable what a team of young baseball players can teach us about conducting our own affairs, business and relationships.

If the boys learn nothing else this year, they will be reminded that good sportsmanship, pride in themselves and pride in each other will take them far.  Sounds like a good foundation for future (and current) entrepreneurs!