Get the Bat Off Your Shoulders
The count is 2 and 2 as you dig in to the batter’s box. The bat is firmly resting on your right shoulder. Your hands are loosely gripping the 33-inch wooden Louisville Slugger. You feel the viscosity of the pine tar between your palms. You feel the muscles in your legs clutching as the pitcher starts his wind up. You stride towards the mound as the pitcher releases the ball. The ball appears to be a fastball heading towards the outside corner. It appears to be ball 3. It’s too close to risk. Something inside of you prevents you from starting your swing as the ball pops into the catcher’s mitt. You look back at the umpire as he hollers, “Strriiiiiikkkeeeeee 3”. They call this the “backwards K” or “going down looking”. You solemnly walk back to the dugout after letting yourself and your team down. It is an awful feeling. You left the bat on your shoulder and did not even give yourself a chance to succeed.
How often does this happen in life? We have a goal or something we know we want and we are immobilized by some form of fear. Most of the time it is a fear of rejection. A fear of putting yourself out there. In social situations, a lot of times, it is a fear of asking a question that you really want to know the answer to. It is a fear of vulnerability. A fear of telling someone how you really feel. In business, it is a fear of challenging someone to buy your product, or finding out why they do not want to do business with you. In both business and social situations, assertiveness is the answer. Do not be afraid to ask people to buy your product. Do not be afraid to tell somebody how you really feel. Do not be afraid to swing at a fastball on the outside corner.
Life passes a lot of people by with their bat firmly on their shoulder. They are afraid to take a swing because they might fail. They might not make the big sale. They might not get a date with the girl they want. They might not get a big hit with the game on the line. How will you ever know if you do not take a swing – both literally and figuratively? The answer is: you won’t.
The odds of getting a hit without swinging the bat are 0. The odds of making a sale without asking someone to buy are 0. The odds of getting a date without asking a girl out are 0. We make up excuses and think that we can make predictions of the outcome with totally unrealistic data. Success finds those who act. Those who swing the bat. Those who fearlessly ask people to buy from them. Those who walk up to the girl that they want to dance with and ask for that dance. Stepping out of your comfort zone once, makes the second time easier. The second time, makes the third time easier and so on.
Hank Aaron used to always say, “My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” Hank recognized that the only way to give yourself a chance to succeed was to swing the bat. This is the same in sales and entrepreneurship. The only way to succeed is to sell. Whether it is your product, service or an idea. You have to keep pitching. You will get tons of “no’s”, but each “no”, gets you one step closer to your next “yes”. You will never build a business without getting “no’s”, just like you will never get a hit with the bat firmly resting on your shoulder.
Take the mentality of a good hitter into your life. Get the bat off your shoulder and quit letting opportunities pass by. If there is something that you want, go get it. Take a swing. You might miss and you might not. The result does not matter. The person you become for taking that swing is what really matters. You become stronger, more confident and more willing to swing at the next pitch. You become immune to failures and see everything as another opportunity coming your way.
…You dig into the batter’s box for your second at-bat. You have completely erased your previous strikeout from your memory. You look at the pitcher with renewed confidence. He winds up. You lean back and squeeze the bat a little tighter. He releases a curveball starting over the middle of the plate. You recognize it immediately and follow it as it breaks to the outside corner. You unlock your hips as you throw the knob of the bat in the direction the ball is heading. The bat whips around and you connect. You watch as a line drives sails over the second baseman’s air-born glove. The Center-fielder and Right-fielder are both sprinting to no avail as the ball lands in right-center, taking two hops and hitting the outfield fence. By the time the relay hits third base you are sliding in safely with a triple. You pound your hands together in victory, knowing that all 3 base-runners scored, putting your team ahead by two. All because you took the bat off your shoulders and took a swing.