Please Don't Blame the Pitcher

While sitting in the stands of a major league baseball game, I noticed some uncanny similarities between what was taking place on the field and how we manage the swings, misses and foul balls that occur in our careers.

Much like the batter, we are bound to face fastballs that seem to materialize out of nowhere—unexpected job loss, corporate takeovers, economic downturns—just to name a few. So what is a batter to do?

These observations may help:

1. It is difficult to advance without taking a swing. Odds are high that if we stand in place hoping for four walks or a wild pitch, we are going to end up back on the bench. The same result holds true if we wait for the actions of others to help us advance our careers. Even those who never make it into the big leagues are clearly better off for taking proactive steps, as anyone who aspires will be quick to affirm.

2. Casting blame is unproductive. Calling out the hurler over the difficulty of the pitches does about as much good as castigating those behind the plate who call the strikes and balls. The umpires, those third parties who measure our performance, are no more at fault for the course of our careers than are the challenging pitches that come our way. It is far more productive to study outside influences and adjust accordingly.

3. Focus on fundamentals. Good batters are students of the game. They build with focus on their strengths and core fundamentals. Top hitters are disciplined in executing. Regardless of the career, applying discipline to fundamental skills will generate healthy pride. In the end, it is the self-aware players who complete their careers with well-deserved satisfaction, no matter their final batting averages.

4. Hold to a high standard. There will always be players who seek shortcuts, who cross ethical lines to enhance their records, who skirt the rules. The true pros are those stars who embrace their professions as meaning much more than just playing a game. These stars hold themselves to a higher standard; whether they find that their accomplishments are applauded or are little noted as routine expectations.

Whatever the game, whatever the challenges thrown our way, we are always free to choose how we play the game. The ability to advance our results is held firmly in our own hands.

And if you happen to be the one on the pitching mound or the person managing the team, always admire the pluck and confidence of those holding the bat who aspire to advance with verve.

“I don’t see pitches down the middle anymore. Not even in batting practice.”
Hank Aaron

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