Getting Around the Bases

Just as crossing home plate in baseball is what ultimately counts, it’s the actions we take in life that make us successful. But to get to home plate, you have to round the bases first.

It’s always disappointing when one of your players gets thrown out at the plate. Maybe it took a lot of patience to get that walk to first base; perhaps he stole second; suppose a sacrifice fly advanced him to third. All for nothing. You HAVE to safely cross home plate to get another run up on that scoreboard.

Similarly, it’s the actions we take that make us successful. The steps we go through prior to taking the right action are of no benefit if we fail to act. As a leader-manager-coach, your primary responsibility is to get people to take action. I had the pleasure of hearing General Norman Schwarzkopf speak on leadership several years ago. His simple but profound definition of leadership was this: ” Leadership is the ability to get people to willingly do what they would not otherwise do.”

If doing or action is like crossing home plate, what can first, second, and third base be compared to?

First base is belief. If your team does not believe in you, themselves, each other, or the mission, they will not make it to first base. Henry Ford said years ago that whether a man believes he can or he can’t, he’s right. Do you know why those five ton elephants at the circus that are chained to that tiny spike never stray and pull out that spike, something they could easily do? Because they don’t believe they can. They could not do it when they were little and so they stopped trying. Leaders recognize that we all have a little of that in us as well. We all have so much more potential than we really use simply because of self-limiting beliefs. Ask yourself, – when’s the last time someone raised their own expectations of themselves because you saw something in them that they didn’t – because you believed in them. Let’s help more people get to first base.

Second base is attitude. I prefer to refer to this as perspective. The way people see things is their reality. And how they see things will definitely impact their actions. “Two men looked out from jail house bars; one saw mud, the other – stars.” How many times do two people see the exact same set of circumstances and one is filled with doubt and fear, and the other thinks to himself -“This is the opportunity of a lifetime?” Leaders help people reframe circumstances so that problems really do become opportunities. Let’s help more people get to second base.

Third base is heart. Dale Carnegie wrote way back in 1937 that there was really only one way to get anyone to do anything, and that is to get them to WANT TO! Desire is the first law of the universe. Leaders help people see a compelling vision and even despite known hardships, their followers WANT TO take action. When you are managing or leading, how often do you ask yourself ” How can I get her to ‘want to’ do this thing? This is what General Schwarzkopf referred to as “willingly do” in his definition of leadership. Let’s help more people get to third base.

If you influence someone to believe they can, see a problem as an opportunity with a confident attitude, and turn up that flame of desire, they will take the action and score!

Now, the fastest way to cross home plate is to hit a home run. ( Even then you still have to touch every base.) Suppose for a moment that a professional ball player could tell the pitcher exactly how he likes his pitches and the pitcher does it! Maybe only 70 mph, right at the waist, right down the pike as we used to say…every pitch! How many more home runs do you think this player could hit? Would you agree….a lot more!?

Here’s the final analogy. Pitches are like thoughts. And here’s the great news. You get to pitch to yourself! Funny thing is most people throw themselves tough pitches most of the time. Select your thoughts carefully. Throw yourself pitches that you can hit out of the park. Then teach your team how to do the same thing. When they recondition themselves with these ” perfect pitches” you will find them scoring – taking the right actions – far more frequently. Then everyone will win a lot more games.

John Wright is President of Simple Leadership Strategies. Contact him at or 888-974-7773 x 101.

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