5 Lessons from Baseball to Be a Hero in Business

birdie-tebbetts-time-coverWith Game 6 of the World Series upon us, we found a fascinating article from Time entitled Sport: A Game of Inches. It’s from July 1957.

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It’s about George Robert Tebbetts who gave 53 years of his life to Major League Baseball – first as a player, then a scout and, finally, the manager of the Cincinnati Redlegs (as the Reds were known at that time).

He is better known by his nickname: Birdie. How did he get his nickname?

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the use of his middle finger!

The article says that his aunt observed that he had lips like a bird. Wikipedia says his aunt said he chirped like a bird.

We don’t know which source to believe, but they do both agree that his voice was irritating. According to the article, he got thrown out of a game because, as the umpire said, “I have a splitting headache and that voice of yours just kills me.”

Time awarded him the Manager of the Year honor in 1956 because of the way he had turned around his team. There are all kinds of lessons in this article about baseball, of course, but also about leadership, life and entrepreneuring.

There are also a number of great quotes by Birdie in this article. Quotes that make you think and quotes that make you realize how colorful he was.

Like his scouting report on a young pitcher, where Birdie said, “Major league stuff and a great arm. Screwy in the head. Eliminate head and I recommend. Get good surgeon.”

But our favorite quote is where the title of the article comes from:

“Baseball is a game of inches … a fellow gets up in the ninth and comes through with a liner between third and short — he's a hero. Two inches the other way and he's a bum because he hit into a double play.”

True in baseball. True in life. True in small business and entrepreneuring.

So here are 5 lessons from baseball about being a hero in business:

Prepare to be a hero
You select your bat. You practice … and practice … and practice some more. You have to know your competition almost as well as you know yourself.

Step up to the plate
You’ll never be a hero if you don’t put on your uniform. You’ll never be a hero if you don’t get out of the dugout. You have to step up to the plate. You have to risk striking out.

A lot of people never take their turn at bat. They have ideas but they never act upon them. They spend so much time preparing that they never get in the game.

Pick your pitch
You won’t be a hero if you swing at every pitch. You’ll strike out before the right one comes along.

Opportunities are all around you. Most of them aren’t worth your time.

There are prospects you could pursue. Pick the right ones for you, your products or services and your company.

There are projects you could initiate. Select the ones that will advance you the furthest toward your goals. Let the rest pass right by.

Don’t worry about the result
When you’re up to bat, you don’t know where the ball will go when you hit it. You can’t worry about that. You just have to focus on hitting it hard. 

You can’t make a prospect say “yes.”
You can give your prospect your best pitch.

You can’t force an employer to hire you.
You can give them every reason to put you on their roster.

Heroes know you can’t control results. You can only control your activity. So they focus on the activity and let the results take care of themselves.

You may not be a hero today but you can rest assured you will be a hero soon.

Inch your way forward.
Focus on getting a little faster, a little better, a little smarter every time you’re at bat.

Take away the lessons – from failure and success – to hit a grand slam the next time out! That’s bigg success!

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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we discuss why you should beware of killing your customers with kindness. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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(Image in today's post from Time.com)

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