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  • Writer's pictureKenneth E. Fields

Some against the grain advice: If you’re determined to win, then don’t be scared to fail

I’ve coached both of my sons on the baseball field for over 10 years, so it's been really strange not to be out on there as frequently over the past year (thanks COVID). It’s often said that baseball is a game where hitters can be in the Hall of Fame if they can limit their failures to 60-70% for 20 years. It’s true that the highest batting average in Major League Baseball is Ty Cobb’s .366–meaning he failed 634 out of every 1000 times he went to the plate!

Photo Credit: Louis van Oeyen, photographer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (058.00.00)
Ty Cobb (left) with ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson

Failure isn’t limited to baseball… basketball greats are acquainted with it as well.

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Marty Osborn made the same observation about football, “In a football game a team will run about 60-70 plays. Of those plays, 90% fail. That’s right. Only 10% of plays will really work. It’s those 6 or 7 plays that will be the difference between winning and losing.”

If we take a step into the world of business organizations, it’s clear that there are lots of things we do every day that don’t work:

  • That meeting that did NOT go as planned

  • A project you poured weeks into doesn’t get approved

  • The sales lead you thought was ready to sign the contract goes another direction

  • And many more!

So, what do you do with all that failure? I’d propose you embrace it!

Success has been defined as the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.

(not Winston Churchill as I had thought)

The next time you strike out and are disappointed by what was a sure thing, pick yourself up and try again… with enthusiasm! Who knows, the next time you’re at the plate, you may hit a home run.

Photo Credit: Louis van Oeyen, photographer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (058.00.00)

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Martin O'Connor
Martin O'Connor

Good read Kenneth, I also remember coaching both my sons in baseball, our one rule that we would not compromise on was ' WE DO NOT QUIT'. This was a hard lesson to learn after the first time of getting hit by a stray hardball. In life we can expect those occasional 'stray pitches' so we need to pre-determine our response; get up, dust off and PLAY BALL.

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