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5 Things I Learned about Business from Baseball

by | Oct 19, 2010

As we enter the playoffs for 2010, (without the Red Sox, much to my chagrin), I thought it might be interesting to compare the ‘business’ of baseball with the business of, well…business.

1. A .300 average is great performance.

Not an endorsement of striking out 70% of the time, but that every idea or project undertaken will not be a homerun (or even a base hit). The idea is to keep trying and taking your swings – never give up!

2. Read the subtle signs to be prepared

Have you ever watched a baseball game closely, and noticed how the fielders shift positions depending upon the batter at the plate? That’s because they’ve learned the tendencies of how the pitcher on the mound delivers and what the batter’s likely to do based upon experience. In business the same principle applies. When you are presenting during a meeting, pay attention to your audience, read their faces and body language, the tone in which they ask questions – to get a feeling about what you are presenting. Watch and learn – and you will be better able to gear your material to your audience to best get your point across and win the day!

3. Practice, Practice, Practice – but can’t it be enjoyable?

To become truly proficient and completely at ease with what you do, you need to constantly work at it – but it need not seem like work if you enjoy what you’re doing. In my marketing communications career for example (lots of copywriting), my ongoing education consists of reading, reading and more reading – which, fortunately, is one of the things I love to do.

Baseball players are arguably men playing a boys game – but if you ask most of them – they love it! So, if you hate your job – then you’ll hate keeping your career knowledge current as well. So try and find something you love – and maybe like baseball players – you can be happy and well paid too!

4. Expect the unexpected

Even the best ball club loses around 40% of the time, and often against a team with a lot less experience and talent. You can’t win them all (as the saying goes), but bouncing back from a defeat is easier when you expect them from time to time, so you’re prepared – and ultimately learn from the experience.

5. One pitch doesn’t cut it for long – vary your repertoire

Frequently in baseball, a new pitching phenom comes up from the minor leagues or college and has a blazing fastball that blows everyone away – for a while. The problems begin when hitters adjust and start knocking runs out of the park – as no matter the speed of the pitch – the pitcher is predictable. A pitcher needs to have a variety of different pitches and speeds to keep hitters off balance to win the game.

In business, as your career continues and you gain experience, you learn what ‘pitches’ to make it a given circumstance as well, so you too can excel, and hopefully have one winning season after another.