The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Monday, April 15, 2013
Volume 18 | # 430
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We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. » Frederick Keonig

Just Keep Pitching

I stumbled upon a funny and pretty motivational discussion last week while watching a recording of Dan Lebatard’s show on ESPN 2.

In this episode, Lebatard interviewed ex-Dodger great Orel Hershiser. I knew Hershiser had a long and storied career and still holds the major league record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched at 59.

I also knew that he was more of a “placement” than “power” pitcher. That’s about it.

When asked about his career and path to the majors, Hershiser shared a story that had me smiling. He wasn’t drafted until the 17th round coming out of college, and he spent 4½ years in the minor leagues.

For a couple of years, he was doing pretty well and feeling good about himself.

Then, Texas minor league parks caught up to him. He spoke of rock-hard infields and wind-blowing-out outfields. Hershiser laughed, “Anything that I gave up in the air got out. Anything I gave up on the ground got through.”

During one stretch, he allowed 26 earned runs without making it through a complete inning. Depressed by it all, he quit.

Luckily, his manager was wiser and let him stay away from the park for a few days. Then, just before Hershiser was scheduled to fly home (he had already purchased the ticket), his manager convinced him to give it one more chance.

And he spent two more years in the minors before finally being called up. But the rest, as they say, is history.

There is no doubt that the inhospitable pitching conditions of those minor league parks hurt Hershiser’s results. Heck, they almost kept him from a hall of fame career.

But it’s also inarguable that those harsh conditions sharpened his skills. When your mistake pitches end up parasailing into nearby parking lots, or shooting past you on the ground like marbles on linoleum, you find ways to make fewer mistakes.

When we’re facing our toughest challenges and/or most intimidating environments may be the toughest times to see the “big picture.”

But those may be the times when we most need to. It’s also when we most need to help our teams see it as well.

Without the advice and encouragement of his manager, Hershiser would never have stayed with the game long enough to ultimately succeed.

The grind you’ll face this week can wear you and your team down…or sharpen you.

It’s your call.

No " Re: " at All

How would you feel if your new fitness trainer walked into the gym with a cigarette in one hand and jelly doughnut in the other?

I’m guessing you’d find yourself questioning his credibility just a little bit.

That example is especially stark in order to illustrate the point. Most of us encounter more subtle examples each day of folks taking- and not taking - actions that call their credibility into question. One such example stuck out to me this week.

Like most folks, I get bombarded regularly with solicitation email from people trying to sell me something while trying not to sound like they’re trying to sell me something.

The thing is I’m not offended by email solicitations. Salespeople have jobs to do. I get it. And, besides, clicking a delete button is not asking much manual labor from me.

That said, someone from a company I recognized emailed me a couple of times with “Re:” followed by something like “Checking In” in the subject line.

Most of us are conditioned when we scan our inboxes to give priority to someone replying to something we sent them.

In this case, I instinctively clicked opened the email to then learn that the subject line was intentionally misleading. And the guy used the words “trust” and “relationship” in his opening line.

If you’ve established that I can’t even trust the subject line in your email, I’m supposed to want to discuss establishing a working relationship with you?

It boggles the mind. (That said, there is a tiny amount of pleasure when you tag some people as “spam”.)

We ask customers, employees, co-workers, and bosses to trust us every day.

Trust that I’ll do my job. Trust that I’ve got your back. Trust that when I tell you I’m going to do something, I’ll do it, and in the timeframe I tell you I will. Trust that I mean what I say.

Are we earning that trust?

Too many of us half-commit, or overcommit, even with the best of intentions. And when we don’t live up to our word… and then don’t get “called on it” (we often aren’t), we put it out of our minds.

But others don’t. They simply learn to discount what we tell them in the future.

That’s not good whether you’re an employee, boss, peer, or service provider.

Most of us can readily recall the last time someone gave or implied an assurance to us and then let us down.

Do whatever you have to today to make sure you aren’t someone else’s letdown.

One of the saddest lines in the world is, 'Oh come now - be realistic.' The best parts of this world were not fashioned by those who were realistic. » Richard Nelson Bolles

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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