I often think of batting averages when thinking about failures in my life. Lately, I decided that failing is a great way to conquer fear. Let me explain --- I freeze in fear. Give me a task and if it scares me, I will create a mental block and not be able to complete, or start, the task. I realized that my fear is all about fear of failing. A few weeks back, I decided that I no longer could afford to freeze when trying to get my business up and running. Thinking about batting averages inspired me to set a new goal: FAIL!
Follow me on my thinking: If I fear something and that fear is failure, and my new goal is to fail, then bring on the fear! So far, it’s working. In fact, I find that I rather enjoy attempting to fail.
Let me introduce you to how I arrived here through batting averages:
Batting averages are basically a calculation of how many hits you get vs. the times you get to bat. The highest possible is 1.000, or in other words - every single time you get up to bat, you get a hit. That would mean, in academia, you would get 100%, or an A+, on every assignment.
I was curious what the current average was for professional Major League Baseball (MLB). I assumed that maybe around .300 was the average, but that some stellar athletes got way above that.
Lo and behold - the average right now is more like .260!!!! That means across the league of PROFESSIONAL baseball players, the academic community would give them a whooping 26% on average, for their ability to hit the baseball. Put more frankly – a miserably failing grade. Even more — only a handful of players have batted above a .400 in a single season. Ted Williams was the last player and he batted .406 in the 1941 season.
Failure sucks, I totally agree - but there are folks with shrines to their favorite baseball player. If you look at it another way - they worship people that fail the vast majority of the time at bat.
Fortunately, the MLB acknowledges that the batting average is an easy stat and tracks accurately the player’s ability to hit the ball, but it doesn’t track how well or how far. It also doesn’t track the other half of their job — when they are in the field. (Let that be a reminder to all of us… what we do in one area doesn’t dictate our total worth in anything.)
If we stepped back from our own lives and looked objectively at this comparison - we are all worthy of shrines. We should all have our own baseball card listing our accomplishments and failures. We should trade them online. (After all, ‘failing’ batting averages are celebrated — so should our ‘failures’.)
Ok sure - that might be carrying the analogy too far. After all, one of the reasons we celebrate and revere professional athletes is that they are living out so many of our childhood dreams. They bring us together and are an incredible model for teamwork. My point however, is imagine if we received failing grades at all our work assignments…… #unemployed.
I recently heard an interview with Tom Brady on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday. She was commenting on the fact that he was beloved by everyone. He chuckled and said that was only in the Northeast. Everywhere else he is hated. I appreciated his humor, and it made a good point — in one area you can be viewed as a human god. In another, you can be viewed as the opposite.
All of this is to say that we are ridiculously hard on ourselves. I will repeat - failure sucks, but if we stepped back and imagined ourselves at bat... I think we’d all be kicking some ass.