TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME- LESSONS FROM SPRING TRAINING

For some people, spring starts when they are able to take out the golf clubs. For others, daylight savings triggers the beginning of the season. Or maybe wearing short sleeves for the first time. For me, unmistakably, the arrival of pitchers and catchers, and the first exhibition games of the year, trigger wonderful reminders that the winter (even if there wasn’t an abundance of snow) is coming to a close.

And while I revel at anticipating in the new season, there are many business lessons to be reminded of when the Boys of Summer start as the young men of spring prepare to take the field:

You Need to Warm Up. No matter how many years of doing something, if you haven’t done something for some period of time, you will not likely be at peak performance. Expect a curve of improvement. Do not expect peak performance immediately. Today’s business world demands rapid response. Better to do something carefully and thoroughly than rushed.

You Need to Practice– someone who does something over and over again will likely get better at it. There is an advantage to working with a large demanding customer base (such as the daily challenges of working in New York). You get used to all sorts of situations, and you know how to respond. Make sure you have many hours of experience at something before you represent you know how to do it.

Small Steps Count – You can’t hit a home run every time out. Today’s great power hitters, Pete Alonso or Aaron Judge, in their prime performance, fail to deliver a home run nine out of ten times. Singles count too. Move the game forward. Make progress, even in smaller increments, every day. Work with your employees, partner and vendors to help you do that.

Experience Matters– There is a reason most rookies endure many years of minor league baseball, and why experienced players often shine much more quickly. Experience counts. In whatever you do, be someone who brings that past performance to the game every day.

Creativity Counts This is the counterbalance to the previous point. Experience without innovation yields to lackadaisical stale play. You need to think about new ways to play the game, all of course within the rules. Think about fielding shifts and changes in pitching strategy, less banging on garbage cans to illegally transmit signs.

Perfection is not likely. The greatest players in the history of the game fail two out of three times. In today’s world, no business could have that kind of batting average and survive. Still, expect that there will be a normal rate of non-success. And don’t let that discourage you from continuing to keep trying.

Keep striving to get better. Continuous improvement matters. With all of the other challenges illustrated above, the one thing that everyone can do, by applying some of the steps above, is to get a little bit better every day. If each day we can learn a new lesson/skill, tomorrow will be better. Again, look for your vendors, partners and employees to help you get better.

You Can Start Over Again Each spring, every team starts in first place. The blemishes of the past season no longer count in the current season. You don’t have to get caught up in past missteps. Keep moving forward.

It may just seem like a place to grab a hot dog and beer, but the ballpark teaches invaluable lessons. Let the re-emergence of spring remind us of these enduring truths.