Sales, Grit, Baseball and Life

You get five pitches in an at-bat in little league. My son Nick had just swung and missed on the fifth. This was with runners on first and third, with two out, and his team down by a couple of runs.

I walked into the dugout from my place coaching first base and I messed up his hair.

“There’s another at-bat. Don’t worry. Nobody remembers the outs.” I said.  He nodded. Frowned. Sat down on the on the bench.

There will be another at bat. Nick plays three baseball seasons each year – Fall, Winter/Spring and Summer. Each season has at least 10 games but most have 15-20.  Each game has 6 innings with 3-5 at-bats per game.  This means he will come up over 200 times each year (it’s more than that if he plays in tournaments or on multiple teams in a season).  This means there is always another opportunity to be great.

This is the most important lesson he can learn from baseball.

In life, there is always another at-bat and nobody remembers the outs.

You’re reading this right now and you are thinking one of two things. You are either thinking about a painful experience you’ve had – like striking out at a key point in your life: Or you are thinking about a time you had a huge success after you experienced a painful setback.

This thinking defines you.

Take the case of my client, Dave.  Dave experienced massive success several times in his life with large companies. He decided to start his own business.  He risked everything and struggled for the better part of 9 years.  He had small victories during that difficult period but they were always followed by significant financial setbacks.  But if you talked to Dave at any given point, he’d tell you how he was building on his last success.  He’d tell you how close he was to “breaking through.”

When I visit him now I marvel at where he is – mentally. Dave is having the best years of his life, personally and professionally. He isn’t making millions yet (he is sure he will) but he knows he is on his way.

The quality most important to success, in baseball, in business, and in life, is grit.

Grit is the ability to push through failure, difficulty, and resistance toward success.

This is a mindset. You focus optimistically on the future and you use whatever evidence you can find to convince yourself you will achieve your goal.

Grit is evident in the mental picture of you hitting that perfect golf shot off the 17th tee.  That’s the image foremost in your mind every time you address the ball. That image motivates you to hit 100 balls at the 24-hour range on your way to work.

It is also evident as you rehearse your presentation over and over before you make your pitch to close the million-dollar account. The image in your mind – the “speech of your life” you gave to nail down your largest client account.

When you have grit, your mental images of success dominate your thinking.  Your mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is perceived.  When you focus exclusively on the images of success you convince your mind you are more likely to be successful. This creates confidence. Confidence motivates you to work harder to ensure you achieve that destiny.

You will work as long and as hard as is necessary to become the person you already are in your mind.

That’s how grit works.

Two innings later Nick strides to the plate. The head coach is yelling at him to focus. He is focused – on the image of a line drive up the middle from the last game. He opens his eyes and takes the first pitch and then the second. He connects on the third pitch and hits the ball over the second baseman driving in the runners on second and third.

There’s always another at-bat.