Hits Are Better Than Home Runs

Babe Ruth

Late in his career, Babe Ruth stepped up to the plate in game three of the 1932 World Series. The Chicago crowd went crazy, yelling insults, and even throwing lemons onto the field. Everyone wanted to take him down.

Standing in the batter’s box and taking the full force of the insults, Babe suddenly called time out. He stepped out of the box and pointed toward the center field as if he were calling his shot and saying to everyone there, “Nothing you can do can touch me.”

After a moment, he stepped back in the box, and the pitcher, Charles Root, wound up and flung his best curveball at him. Babe connected with an earthquake-like crack, and the ball soared deep into center field, just where he had predicted. It was the longest home run in Wrigley Field history.

Home Runs

Everybody loves home runs—hearing the bat crack, seeing the ball fly over the fence, and watching the hitter tag all four bases while the pitcher shakes his head in disgust.  And the crowd either erupts in jubilations or is sits stunned in silence.

But there is a problem with home runs.  Statistically, the teams with the best home run hitters don’t win the World Series.  In fact, they seldom even make the playoffs.

Baseball and Business

Baseball provides many great analogies for business, which I have tapped into before.  And the comparison of hits to home runs is one of the best.

The problem with home runs is after the first batter hits one, it takes monumental control for the rest of the lineup to not want to hit one as well.  Each batter, in turn, stands at the plate waiting for the best pitch so they can hit it out of the park and run the bases to a standing ovation.

They forget you only get three strikes.  They also forget that the team with the most runs wins, not the team with the most home runs.

Winning businesses are the businesses that are looking to hit singles, not home runs.

Here are the things they are doing.

  1. Connect with people. Many business people only want to meet top decision-makers.  What we often forget is that the people behind the scenes have much influence on corporate decisions and that we need to connect with everyone.
  2. They listen. Listening is an art, and too frequently, we hear only what we want to hear and only for the issues that might affect us directly.  When we meet with our customers and our potential customers, we need to listen to everything they share.  We need to hear their problems and concerns and help them address those concerns and not just be there to sell our products or service.
  3. Ask open-ended questions. Once we learn to connect with people and how to listen, we need to put ourselves in a position to be a problem solver.  And to be there to help, we need to learn how to communicate and ask the kinds of questions that elicit the underlying problems that you are there to help solve.

The Bible

The home run hitter in business is looking for “the big deal.”  They move from potential client to potential client until that deal is found.  And invariably they will find their big deal.

Hitting singles in business,  however, is about connecting with people and trying to help them with their problems.  Maybe your product or service fits a particular problem, but often it doesn’t.

But regardless, connections and relationships are made.  Batters who hit singles stay within their game plan because they know it works.  Businesses who build relationships and connect with people stay within their game plan because they also know it works.

The Bible teaches about staying within your game plan and provides a clear path forward while helping you keep your priorities in order and your eyes on the prize.  The prize is winning the game, not hitting the home run.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says.

“My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.”

God is interested in the singles and doubles, and for us to not worry about home runs.

Philippians 3:13 says.

“The one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead.”

We are not to worry about the strike-outs; we need to focus on hitting a single the next time up.

To overcome the temptation to try for home runs, we need to learn what God wants for us, and then focus on being consistent, caring, and thoughtful businesspeople.