A Bad At-Bat Does Not Define Your Life

Does winning matter? Yes!

Does Losing Matter? Also yes!

Do losing and winning affect your mental approach to life? They certainly do, but not always the way you think. What if you focus on how you have lost? Would that improve your future performance? Maybe, but only if you seek what good things you did while losing. Every failure has parts where you did well. And on the same line of thought, every success has features you did poorly.

Focusing on outcomes can mislead you about what works in the long run. Ask yourself this, “If I were a baseball player, would my performance at the plate today matter to me as much as my lifetime batting average?”

Highly successful people focus on processes, not outcomes.

Successful people know what works, why it works, and with whom. Does that mean every time they apply their skills, they win? Absolutely not. The world has more variance than you or they know about. Do you know about slumps? Player A has not had a hit in thirty at-bats. If he focuses on losing instead of maintaining or recovering the process that permitted him to hit in the past, he’s in trouble. The next at-bat is less likely to be an out if the emphasis has been on process.

Find the good.

In the 1993 all-star game John Kruk, who you will notice is an all-star player, batted against 6’10” dominating left-hander Randy Johnson. Unfortunately, Kruk bats left, an impediment that makes Johnson nearly unhittable.

This short video displays failure. Kruk versus Johnson 1993. I don’t think any at-bat has ever been worse. After the game, sportswriters and commentators questioned Kruk about the performance. His reply was, “It was a good at-bat. I went up there hoping to live, and I did. Good at-bat.”

If you measure outcomes alone, you will become confused. No matter the outcome, every at-bat has good points and others that need work. Many young people and some adults forget that the pitcher is doing his best too. Sometimes the opponent beats you.

Short-term results do not define you. It doesn’t matter if the results are good or bad. You harm your future performance by either trying too hard because of losses or being too cocky because of previous success,

The Laffer Curve 

In tax policy, the Laffer Curve explains why there are always two tax rates that raise the same amount of revenue. For example, 0% raises exactly the same revenue as 100%. Between the extremes, there are other pairs. The idea is to find the optimal.

In athletics, it is the same. If you are too tense, like catatonic at 100%, you fail. If you are involved enough, like sleeping at 0%, you fail.

You must find the right level of involvement and try to stay there. Heart rate and respiration rate are two that many athletes pay attention to. They also know how to bring it back to where they want it. Watch athletes take deeper breaths when the situation gets tense.

The level of arousal is manageable if you know how and pay attention.

How many people have been told to count to ten before responding in anger? A lawyer recently told me that it isn’t wise to do so. If you end up killing the person, it is pre-meditated.

Anticipating

A programmed response admits failure could occur and provides a method to carry on.

“If at first, you don’t succeed, try try again.” Reasonable after assessing the process that unfolded. Many of the life failures of successful people have been addressed by famous American philosopher Charlie Sheen. “If at first, you don’t succeed, try try again. What if, at first, you do succeed?”

Anticipation is a powerful tool if you design plan B and perhaps ten more variations.

The bit to take away

If you want to be successful on purpose, you must understand what components are in your process. When the outcome is not to your taste, look for variances.

Learn to control your emotional involvement while the process unfolds.

If you don’t know your process, you are not really trying.

Never let a well-run process that yielded a weak outcome ruin your day.


I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning. I have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Federal Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at don.shaughnessy@gmail.com.

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