I something really cool happen recently. My oldest son plays high school baseball and his team went on a long run to the Michigan High School baseball championships and made it to the final four. It was really fun. The local community came out in droves. Big crowds. High pressure situations. Cheers and tears. Quintessential local small town high school team does good story, ends one game short.
My son was the last out of the final game, with the game tying run on third base. He hit the ball for an out. Literally, one step from glory. So many people came to us offering condolences for his ‘failure’. He must be crushed. He must be so down. One at bat meaning so much. Ironically, in the game prior he hit in the game tying run and the game winning run in extra innings.
The funny thing was he wasn’t upset at all. He looked at it not in terms of success or failure, but in terms of development. You don’t get many opportunities to be in that situation. He didn’t get it done this time, but the ‘next’ time he still wants the bat in his hands when it happens. He compartmentalized this ‘one’ at bat as development. Not success or failure.
He had 150 at bats during the year and failed 60% of the time. While this at bat was obviously at a crucial time for team success, he treated it as every other at bat he’s had. Try to get yourself into a positive hitters count, and swing at the best pitch you can. You’ll fail 60-70% of the time in baseball, if you’re a really good player! Failure is guaranteed over the long run – if you view it, in only that one way.
He started his club baseball season the next day. More at bats, more games, more development. More chances to fail. Or more chances to develop and get better.
I wonder how much better our organizations would be if we could take on this mentality? It’s about getting better each time, not closing the sale, successful projects, better profit and margins, but incrementally getting better little by little.