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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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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00516-110509.mp3

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

Take Me Out to the Free Ball Game

george_marylynn_baseball.jpbA one. A two. A three. Take me out to the ball game …

We can hear Harry Carey singing it right now! (We’ll warn you: If you listen to our show today, you can hear why we could never be on American Idol!)

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Bigg success is life on your own terms. There are five elements of bigg success – money, time, growth, work and play. Today we’ll focus on play.

If you’re a regular reader, you know we’ve confessed that play is the thing we struggle with the most. We love our work. We’ve found that thinking about the five elements of bigg success helpful because we make sure we schedule some play time.

We love baseball, but going to a Major League Baseball game can be a real budget-bender. By the time you buy the tickets, pay for parking, and grab a hot dog, you can spend some serious smack!

You don’t have to throw your budget a curve ball to have fun at the old ball game

We feel fortunate to live in a University town. We have some bigg time sporting events, including a baseball team that is doing very well this year. Go Illini!

Last year, we kept talking about going to a game but never made it. They start early when it’s too cold for us to watch a game outside.

This year we made a commitment to go, so we were keeping an eye on their schedule. Lo and behold, they ran a bigg promotion – you could get into the game for free (it normally costs $5) and you could even get free food.

Now that’s a bigg deal!

And the promotion was a bigg success! They had a record attendance. In fact, so many people showed up, we decided it was worth buying food from the concession stand instead of waiting for the free stuff.

It was a great game. We had lots of fun and some good time together as a couple (see pictures on our Flickr page). That’s the best part. The second best part was that Illinois came back to win in the ninth inning!

But what if you don’t have a University team in your area? Can you still take in a ball game on the cheap? Baseball, you bet!

Summer college baseball leagues. College baseball players finish their collegiate schedules early. They want to keep playing without jeopardizing their amateur status. So college leagues have sprung up. We have a team about thirty miles from us (ticket prices are $6 – $9). Check the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball site for the team closest to you.

Minor leagues. Future professional baseball players have to train somewhere. There are minor league teams all over the country. We have a AAA team fairly close to us ($6 – $10 for a ticket). If you don’t know of one in your area, check out the Minor League Baseball site.

Amateur leagues. We have several teams in our area like this. You can take in a game for a few bucks plus any food and drinks you may want.

Little Leagues. We love watching the Little League World Series on television. Check out the raw talent in your area to a Little League game. You can’t beat the price and there are games all over. We have a field within walking distance of our house.

So what’s the bigg idea? Tap into your local community and have a bigg day out at the ball park!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

___

Thanks so much for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we discuss how some friends of ours taught their teenage daughter the value of money. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00395-051509.mp3

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(Image in today's post from our Flickr page our Flickr page)

Are They Hearing What You Are Saying?

On the show, George recalled a teacher who made him write a report on what he wanted to be when he grew up. This was junior high; George didn’t know what he wanted to be. Maybe a major league baseball player?

So he did his report on being a bricklayer. His dad was a bricklayer, with his own business. When his teacher saw the title of his report, she said, “You mean with your brain, you’re going to be a bricklayer?”

George could have taken that comment as an insult about his dad. But his dad was good with his hands and his head. He said he did initially think that he wouldn’t get a good grade. But over time, her comment resonated with him. It helped him, as a young person, be more confident in his mental ability.

4 ways to get a message across
The statement and the delivery are both important parts of communicating a message. You can’t necessarily control what your message is, but you can control how you deliver it.

#1 – Negative statement, negative delivery
Without question, this is the worst way to communicate a message. If someone says something negative to you, in a negative way, they lose a lot. You’re not going to feel better. The relationship won’t be enhanced. You may get defensive or even angry.

"Speak when you are angry – and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret.”
Dr. Laurence Peter


#2 – Negative statement, positive delivery

Sometimes the message isn’t positive, but we still need to get the message across. How you say it becomes incredibly important. A good example might be Donald Trump on The Apprentice. He’s said things like, “I love you; I think you’re a great guy, but you’re fired.”

Negative messages have to be delivered. However, you can choose to frame them in a positive way.

#3 – Positive statement, negative delivery
You risk diminishing the real message you’re trying to get across when you have negative overtures. George took away a positive from his teacher’s comment, but he could have just been insulted. 

#4 – Positive statement, positive delivery
Obviously, this is how you want to frame as much of your communication as you possibly can. This draws people to you.

How you respond to messages
You also can control how you respond to other people’s messages, no matter how they deliver it. Let’s take the worst one. Someone may hit you with a negative statement and deliver it in a negative way.

Pause before you respond. The conversation can go into a tailspin and be completely unproductive or you may be able to turn it around with the right response.

And we can be inspired, no matter what the message is or how it’s delivered. We have a friend who remembers being told that he was too small to make the high school football team. That “negative, negative” inspired him to go for it. Not only did he make the team, but he was a starter!

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(Image by danzo08)