I've loved baseball for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I played the game every chance I got; as I grew older, my passion for the game only flourished, eventually allowing me to play in college.
I was taught to visualize the different scenarios that could happen when a ball was hit to me. In the outfield, there were multiple decisions that needed to be made in a split second. The ball could fly behind me, deviate to my right or left, or take a nosedive in front of me. I needed to know who was on base, the implications of every option, and exactly where to throw the ball at all times.
My ability to get the batter out was directly affected by my ability to correctly visualize these moving parts. After playing in hundreds of games, I could make quick judgments based on visualization and past experience. And when I transitioned into the business world, I found that this practice was just as relevant.
Here are three pieces of advice that I've gained through my experiences in baseball and business:
1. Visualize your company's success.
Starting a company and growing it from the ground up is hard. But when you don't have a path outlined ahead of time, that task becomes even harder. I quickly learned to apply my years of baseball lessons to my company--we needed to think about where we wanted to be in five years and plan our path to get there.
When you start your company, ask yourself these important questions:
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- Who are our target clients/customers?
- How will we partner with them?
- How many employees should we ideally have (today, in six months, in a year, etc.)?
- Who will make the final decisions? What do I own, and what do I delegate?
Plans change, and there's no way to foresee every possible outcome. Even after years of playing baseball, the occasional surprise would sneak up on me. But envisioning a basic pathway to success gave me the confidence I needed when it was time to act.
2. Listen to your teammates.
There were a thousand things that could have gone wrong on the baseball field: What if a fellow player went for the ball when I did? What if I misjudged the distance and ran into the wall? What if I overthrew it and lost the game? To make the right decision on the baseball field, I had to listen to my teammates and trust their judgment.
The same goes for your business. You have to put your own agenda aside and listen to your people. Make sure you understand their thought processes and where they're coming from. Wait as long as possible to speak, and formulate a response based on what they've said.
At my company, I gather buy-in from different teams before implementing any change. It's a collaborative effort. I'll never have all the answers, so I rely on our team to continually improve the company.
3. Treat people how you'd like to be treated.
It might sound like a clich, but my teammates--in baseball and business--deserve respect, and it's something I try to provide every day.
We have "town halls" every quarter. We open the floor up to the team to gather feedback and voice frustrations. I want to give everyone the opportunity to determine the direction of the business. When you give your employees a voice, they'll be excited to come to work every day and grow your company.
Don't be afraid to be transparent; it takes a lot of wasted time and energy to hide things. Instead, communicate with your employees and voice your appreciation for their hard work.
Close your eyes. Where do you see yourself tomorrow? In 30 days? In a year? In five years? Take a minute to write down your visions of grandeur. Check back every six months to see how far you've come and what has changed. When you take the time to visualize what success looks like, listen to your teammates for insight, and treat people like you'd like to be treated, you'll see great success in business.
Now, go practice catching fly balls.