What Baseball Can Teach Us At Work

baseball pitcher with team and crowd behind him

© 2015 by Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. and L. Georgi DiStefano, LCSW

 

As both therapists and attorney, we have spoken with hundreds of clients over the years. From those experiences, we have learned that many individuals hold themselves to unrealistic and often detrimental standards. We often encourage these individuals to consider the lessons of baseball. Let’s begin with performance. Most people expect themselves to hit home runs daily. Worse yet, many managers expect the same thing from their employees. Is that realistic? A major league baseball average is 300. 

That actually means that out of ten times at bat, you miss connecting with the ball seven times. That’s right. A person gets paid thousands of dollars and only connects with the ball three (3) times. That is considered a solid major league batting average. 

There is an important life lesson here. Sometimes we strike out. Sometimes we hit a single or double and sometimes we are lucky and hit a home run. It is our season average that counts. Judging yourself too harshly or unrealistically will actually work against your performance.

Managers take note. Think of performance in terms of seasons. A fiscal year is a good equivalent of a season. Take the long view.  In our book, It’s All Your Fault At Work we discuss the importance of feed-forward conversations.  Help employees set future goals that are realistic and attainable. Remind them as they should remind themselves that some days they will hit it out of the park and some days they will strike out. What’s important is to define success by your season average.

Another lesson provided by baseball is that you can always benefit from working with a coach. Think about it. A person gets paid thousands or perhaps millions of dollars per baseball season. They have been playing the game of baseball for many years by the time they make the big leagues. Nevertheless, they still go to spring training, they still listen to the advice of a batting coach or a coach on the first base line; why? To gain added perspective. There is virtually no job that cannot be improved by considering an additional perspective. It doesn’t matter your level of expertise or experience. Most of us would benefit from new training, a work consultation, or some form of added perspective. We frequently make the cognitive mistake of thinking we should know it all in our job positions.  However, the truth is that there is usually much to gain by considering a new perspective at work.

A final lesson from baseball is to value teamwork. Get to know your team members at work. It is important to learn how they best receive information and what their strengths are. Play to their strengths and don’t forget that in this modern day of technology, in-person contact goes a long way to building lasting relationships. You might even want to go to a baseball game together.

 

Georgi DiStefano headshot

L. GEORGI DISTEFANO, LCSW  is an award-winning author, international speaker, licensed clinical social worker, and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers San Diego chapter. She has extensive experience in the management of substance abuse programs and employee assistance programs, as well as workplace conflict resolution.

 

 

Bill Eddy headshot

BILL EDDY, LCSW, ESQ. is the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of the High Conflict Institute in San Diego, California. He pioneered the High Conflict Personality Theory (HCP) and is viewed globally as the leading expert on managing disputes involving people with high-conflict personalities. He has written more than twenty books on the topic, developed methods for managing high-conflict disputes, and has taught professionals in the U.S. and more than ten countries. He is also co-host of the popular podcast, It’s All Your Fault and writes a popular blog on Psychology Today.

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