The danger of always swinging for the fences

I loved playing baseball as a kid. I ended up playing all the way through school and up into college. I had a great time, helped cover some of my costs going to school, and in general it was a good experience. Most of that time I was a swing for the fences, all or nothing, hit a home run or strike out kind of guy. When I finished playing I was about 270 pounds and so if I didn’t hit it really far, there’s a good bet I wasn’t getting on base. I always used to say that if you hit it far enough you don’t have to run around the bases, they let you jog. Unfortunately that approach might have semi-worked in baseball but it certainly didn’t transfer as well to the work a day world.

There’s a lot to be said for hitting singles or making bite sized progress every day. One of the things that’s really hard to come to grips with, whether it’s in working your way through a project, developing a business, or quite honestly most things in life, it’s rare to hit the home run and have instantaneous success in something. More often than not, you sort of have to grind away at it and string together singles, if we’re going to stick with the baseball analogy, in order to be successful. I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from thinking big, but I think you’re more likely to get those big dreams if you can see a path to get there that is built on a steady stream of incremental success that are easier to attain individually. When you put them together they can take you someplace great.

All that swinging for the fences in little league, in high school, and college didn’t necessarily get me where I wanted to go with my baseball career but it did teach me that when I stepped out into my professional career, I ought to try a different approach. I adopted some of the more grinding approaches that comes from the age old formula of just hard work and good ideas. So the next time you’re thinking about how you ought to approach something, it’s always good to brainstorm around what the really big idea could be. I think sometimes that gives you a vision of how far something could go. From there you can try to come up with a path that gets you there with maybe a few more steps involved; but with those few more steps it’s probably a lot easier to accomplish.

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