I love the month of April, not just for the spring showers, but for the baseball it brings. I admire people with mathematical brains who can file away the intricate stats of past games and obscure players from every team in the Major League, and most of the ones in the Minors.
I can’t do that, but I appreciate baseball for its precise nature, the mental chess matches it initiates between players and between coaches, the life lessons it teaches, and the romance and mystique it exudes. One of my Europhile friends is always singing the virtues of soccer for its fast pace, but I make the case that soccer has a lot of wasted action that goes nowhere and possesses no romance or mystique. As evidence, I point out there are no great books or movies about soccer.
My nomination for best book title ever is the autobiography of all-time homerun king (I dismiss records post-steroid era), Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. In “I Had a Hammer,” Aaron writes about the ribbing he took because he didn’t display the flash and speed of his contemporaries such as Willie Mays, who ran the bases arms flailing and cap flying. (By the way, more than one baseball historian has suggested Mays placed his cap loose and high on his head just for dramatic effect). Aaron simply answered that he saw no need for wasted motion. He was just pacing himself.
I heard an anecdote that one of the all-time great pitchers, Sandy Koufax, was once asked to sub for a pitcher who missed his plane, even though Koufax had just pitched a game a couple of days prior. His pitching coach suggested he take a little off his fastball and pitch at 90-percent capacity. Koufax pitched a no-hitter that day. The precision control he gained by pacing himself blew away his competition.
The current economic conditions remind me of those life lessons from two men who achieved “all-time-great” status. You’ve probably heard a bearish economy is a great time to get ahead in business. But rather than going all out – arms flailing and cap flying – consider the benefits of pacing yourself. Don’t overextend yourself – or your credit – and wind up in bankruptcy. Don’t try to eat up the competition at the expense of your own good name, taking on too many projects or getting into too many add-on services outside your expertise. Economic advisers stress the importance of not thinking too fast or acting rashly; act deliberately and with diligence. Prioritize your list of concerns and act on them one at a time – checking them off as you go. It will reduce stress and hopefully keep your business around for the long haul. All I’m saying is – it sure worked for Koufax and Hammerin’ Hank.