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How Success at Baseball and Business are the Same

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By Shane Bender

In Nate Silver’s book, The Signal and the Noise, he discusses how he uses statistics and metrics to determine the success of major league prospects. He decided to compare his system with the scouts, and the scouts won. The challenge with looking at just the numbers is that there are other qualitative and immeasurable aspects that help pick the best prospects. Scouts have the ability to look at both statistical data as well as the player’s mental toolbox.  Silver discussed with major league scout, John Sanders, about five key mental and psychological abilities that lead to success at the major league level.

As I looked at the list, it seemed apparent that these skills would be the same to predict success in business. Maybe we can look at the most recent trends in business to predict the next few months, but if we want to predict long-term success in business, we need these key abilities.

Preparedness and Work Ethic

Major League baseball requires players to be mentally and physically prepared for play 6 days a week for at least 6 months of the year. This requires a significant amount of discipline and consistency. I have written about these subjects in the past. There are key rituals that the best players do each day to prepare. I think we should follow a similar daily plan to get us ready for a day of peak performance. One trick that I learned from Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner is to write down the big 3 for the day and even schedule this on the calendar. We want to make sure we accomplish the biggest 3 things each day that are moving us toward longer-term goals.

Concentration and Focus

Baseball requires significant focus at the plate and on the field. So much happens in a short amount of time, and players need the reflexes to swing at the right pitch or pick up a grounder. We live in a distracted world where concentration and focus are hard to come by. I am currently listening to my Focus At Will App as I write this to help me focus without distractions. We can accomplish so much more when we set aside time to focus and do things that will really help our business grow.

Competitiveness and Self-Confidence

Baseball prospects have to overcome self-doubt as they move to different levels – from high school to college or the minor league system. The statistics are in the paper, and people can say or write anything about them. We all fail from time to time. If you are an entrepreneur or desire to be one, you might feel like you are failing a lot. Do you have a fear of failure? I know we don’t like it when there aren’t any new business prospects or when we make an incorrect hire or just make a mistake. We must learn from them, but we can’t fear the failure. We have to be resilient.

Stress Management and Humility

We know in baseball that even the best hitters fails to hit the ball the majority of the time. Sometimes, there are even slumps during the season. The best players keep a healthy perspective and just keep doing the right things. Baseball is a humbling sport. Being a business owner can just as humbling as well, and it can be stressful. We need a sense of humor and ability to cope with failure. Sometimes that means we need some rest. Sometimes we just need to journal or talk it over with a business coach or group of friends. No matter what, if we just keep doing the right things, then we will succeed.

Adaptiveness and Learning Ability

A good baseball prospect has to process new information and listen to advice during the game. Sometimes they get traded or have to learn a new position. They must have “controlled intensity” when dealing with change. In business, we know things can change often. We have to continually be learning and assessing what is going on in our business and with our customers. How can we truly help our customers be successful, and what can we learn or adapt to make that possible? I have tried some things that have worked and others ideas that haven’t. We just have to keep putting ideas, content, and quality work out there and continually improve.

Let Your Business Be the Hot Baseball Prospect

When I work with a client for CFO Services, we put together a revenue forecast. I usually start with historical trends to forecast out the future, but this will not predict the longer term forecast. If a small business is trying to move to the next level in their business, many of the historical habits and trends will have to change to take them to the next level. As a business hires new employees and experiences growth, new challenges arise that can be daunting. If your business continually follows the five key traits above, your chance of success will increase, and your revenue forecast will have a much higher chance of being a reality.

If you want to learn more about forecasting for business and nonprofits, check out my 
award-nominated book and audiobook Forecast your Future: How Small Businesses Exchange Stress and Chaos for Cash and Clarity