In baseball, there’s an expression “don’t swing at the first pitch.” From youth coaches to big league managers, a lot of coaches preach patience at the plate. There are a lot of reasons for this—from not wanting to go down early in the count to giving your hitters a look at the pitcher to making the pitcher throw more balls. But the reality is it all boils down to discipline. I’ve often thought that this lesson, “Don’t swing at the first pitch,” would be beneficial for us all to incorporate into our own lives.
Talent Without Discipline Means Striking Out
I had a baseball player who I represented who was so talented. He was projected to be the next big thing, but he never did what we thought he would do at the Big League level. He never had the kind of success, never had the length of time in the big leagues, never made the kind of money that he thought he would make at the big league level. Just never did what the world thought he could do or what he thought he could do.
In part, it was because he was so talented, so athletic that when he would step up to the plate, he thought, “I don’t need a plan, I can get a hold of anything.” He lacked discipline at the plate in a huge way, and it cost him the career everyone expected he would have.
We’ve All Got Curveballs Coming at Us
At some level, we all have pitches coming at us, don’t we? We’re all stepping up to the plate in our own lives. We got fastballs, curveballs, sliders, and changeups. We have to have the discipline to stick to our plan and to discern what’s worth swinging at and what’s not worth swinging at.
I remember this player had been struggling at the plate and the coaches advised him, “Look, man. You got to let the first pitch go by. I don’t care what it is. You have got to settle in at the plate, work your plan.” Sure enough, that night he swang at every first pitch and struck out.
My Challenge to You
Just like this player I mentioned, I would challenge you to pull back and recognize that success isn’t about talent at all. It’s about discipline.
Most people overestimate talent and underestimate discipline. Like a good ballplayer, don’t swing at the first pitch. Stay focused and disciplined towards what you want most. Don’t chase the first thing you see coming at you.
More on Discipline:
- Episode 135- Tara Lipinski on The Discipline to Be Great
- Episode 139- Tim Brown on The Drive for Continuous Improvement
- How to Prioritize What Truly Matters
- How the Drive to Get Better Keeps the Best at the Top
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to up their game. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company offers training and coaching programs to help leaders unleash their potential, including: Game Changer Negotiation Training, which teaches business people a framework for successful negotiating; The Energized Leader training, which teaches people how to manage their energy to achieve focus and freedom; and a monthly coaching program, Game Changer Leadership Huddles, to help members recharge their purpose and mindset. Sign up to receive our newsletter, subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast, and watch her TED Talk on The Secrets to a Champion Mindset.