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When Is A Home Run A Home Run?

 It's October 17th, 2004. The Red Sox are down to their rival Yankees in the playoffs, three games to none. No team up to this point has ever come back from that large of a deficit, and it's not looking that great either. It's in the 12th inning and the Yankees could in fact put it away, but David Ortiz steps up to the plate and knocks a home run out of the park. A walk off home run to get the Red Sox back into the playoff series eventually pushed the Yankees to a game set. The Red Sox won game seven and erased a curse that had been around since 1918. He hit this home run, but what was his access to that home run? When did that home run become a home run? How was he able to get to that moment?

Today we're going to discuss this access to a home run. This access to this possibility that we've all fantasized about on one level or another. Everyone has a version of hitting a home run in the playoffs or hitting the big shot, scoring the touchdown, making that Broadway show, winning that Emmy, that Oscar, whatever that is. Everyone has a version of what a home run is for them, but the question is what is our access to that home run? What was David Ortiz's access that evening to the home run? That wasn't the first time he had ever hit a home run. It wasn't the first time he had ever hit a walk-off home run, and it definitely was not his last. He got to that moment. How did he get to that? How did he get to that seminal moment?. Well, I can tell you it wasn't by just casually showing up to the ballpark that day. He did not randomly decide that he was going to beat the rival Yankees. He had many opportunities, practices, and game scenarios played out to get to that point. His access to that home run came from being at bats. When that hit crossed over the outfield line and scored for his team, it was legendary. Our home run works the same way, whether that's your family, your relationship, your country, your company or your project, our access to that home run is nothing other than getting at bats.

That’s all we can do. The only thing we can do to have access to our home run moment is to go to bats. Yet we live in a culture where going at bats is okay as long as you hit the home run, or as long as you do your job. Look folks, the all time great hitter, Ted Williams, had a 3 44 average. That means that 65% of the time he failed to do his job, and he was considered the greatest. Major League Baseball is a wonderful, unique place where that level of failure is okay. It's also okay in some other industries as well. Standup comedians know that they are going to bomb as they get into the industry. They know that it's going to take time and practice over and over again to get to a moment when they have a set that can actually make contact with their audience, get the laughs, and the timing right. It's going at bats. It's constantly swinging. It is getting ourselves in the game and taking those chances. All too often we're so concerned about the outcome of each pitch that we get tentative, not only to not swing, but even to show up to the game because we're concerned that we might have a failure rate.

Well, here's what I can tell you for sure. If it's in the beginning of a game or project that you're in, your failure rate is going to be high. The project that we've taken on will be at bats. We're definitely striking out more than we're making any contact at this point, but that's because we need the practice.There is no shortcut to the goal that you want to have. You need to get at bats and take the attempts. You need to take the small steps and enjoy the failures.

Enjoy the process of getting to the possibility where you could actually hit a home run. I'll be honest, when I walked into this thing, I thought I've gotten some hits in my life. I've had success in sales or whatever else it is, but I'm not going to be able to jump right back to wherever I was in other projects for this project. I'm still going to need to learn what at bat looks like with this new project. I know there's all this rage around analytics and how analytics are going to change marketing and change sales. The feedback we've received from the ads that we’ve run we have learned a ton from, but analytics are only as good as the data you put into it. The more data you put into it, the more it's going to serve you. The analytics are going to help my wife and I to pivot and make adjustments needed for this project. We also need to go at bats first. There is no software that exists in the world that allows you to know the outcome. There are no analytics without something to analyze. We have to take the opportunity to enjoy and embrace the idea that we are going to fail. We're going to fail a lot. We are going to need some bats, and we're going to learn from those at bats moments. That is how we will have access to a home run.

I was 18 months into a new role, and I was frustrated because I felt like I was getting traction, but I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be. I wasn’t at the level of professionalism that I thought I should be, or I wasn’t at the closing ratio that I should be at that point. I had asked a good friend and sales manager of mine, “What can I do? What do I need to do to get consistent success”? He simply replied with, “You need more pipeline.” I needed more opportunities and more funnels, or in other words I needed to be at bats. The more of those I got, the more comfortable I was in the process, and ultimately the more successful I became. There is no shortcut to success.

The analytics and all the wonderful tools out there are going to help so many of us succeed, if we're not willing to get up and take those swings then we’re going to be stuck. I think one of the reasons this occurs for a lot of us, or at least for those of us born in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, is that we grew up in this amazing American film industry where they invented and created this thing called the movie montage. I think we all remember the movie montages, especially from the eighties. I'm just going to pick on Sylvester Stallone for just a second. He had the Rocky Series. There was Rocky 4 where he was going to go over to Russia and battle the Russian. He put himself up into this cabin and had very minimal weights and structure. He was going to get focused, and what we noticed is that about six minutes and 18 seconds into a song, he went from a guy that wasn't sure if he could beat Ivan Drago to a guy that was king of the world, completely chiseled, completely ripped, and ready to go.

Here's the thing. We saw the six minutes and 18 seconds of the song that got us all pumped up, but what we didn't see was the 8, 9, 10, 11 months prior to that in which he was focused on eating right, working out on a daily basis, and thousands upon thousands of reps before we got to see the 17 or 20 reps he did on the film. The movie montage is a wonderful, creative way to skip through the hard work. It's a way to skip through the bats and get to where the analytics are going to take us. I challenge all of us this week to find whatever that dream is that we have, whatever our fantasy was for the big moment, that big home run, and just start taking some bats this week. It's alright if you strike out.

That's the goal. Just start swinging. Start trying to figure out what it is that you could do to create the opportunity for yourself. Then after you've done a thousand of those, then start to look at the analytics. Start to look at the feedback and find out where you can make changes.

The feedback I'm getting promotes me and pushes me to the next level. In honor of Major League Baseball season, let’s get out there the next couple weeks and take some serious bats and run towards the roar.


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