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You Play to Win the Game

This post is not about technology, so please indulge me my brief foray into motivational speaking. This post is about how we approach each opportunity, each day and either intend to win or not to fail because a) they are not necessarily the same thing and b) I’m not really even going to focus on the outcome.

Nashua Elks Little League

Nashua Elks Little League

When I played Little League and Babe Ruth baseball as a kid, I was a lousy terrible hitter until literally the last few games of my unheralded career. The reason for the dramatic, albeit woefully late, conversion was actually very simple. For most of my childhood, I was terrified of striking out. I would break out into a cold sweat in the on deck circle and when I stepped into the batter’s box my entire mind set was focused on somehow finding a way not to strike out. I would watch most pitches go by hoping for a walk, making token attempts at swinging at pitches in the middle of the strike zone. The result was a few walks here and there and an occasional, miraculous hit. Then one day, a thought occurred to me. What if I went to the plate looking for a good pitch and actually trying to get a hit? Well, you can guess what happened. I went from pathetic to slightly above average overnight.

You might be thinking that next I’ll tell you how this event transformed me into a newer, more confident young adult and shaped me into the man I am today. You’d be wrong. The fact is that I apparently didn’t learn a darn thing because I’ve been approaching many of my business challenges the exact same way; playing not to lose instead of playing to win. I came to this realization a few days ago when I approached a challenge and decided I was going to knock the ball out of the park. And I did. I exceeded the customer’s expectations, which should be every business’s goal.

But as I said in the opening, this post isn’t about the outcome. Immediately after receiving thanks and praise from the customer for a job well done, and for no particular reason, I remembered my transformation in the batter’s box and started to wonder what would happen if every action I took, no matter how simple, was treated like an individual at-bat. What if I actually tried to get a hit every time I sent an email reply, or spoke with a customer, or wrote a new database stored procedure?

So that’s really what I’m writing about. Treating the dozens of relatively small acts we undertake every day with the same intent to visualize a positive outcome and knock the cover off of the ball. You will rack up a bunch of hits, a few strike outs and even some home runs so that, eventually, you end up with an impressive career batting average. After all, why do we play the game in the first place?

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