You know what I love about baseball? There’s always a winner and a loser. No matter how seasoned players are, how long teams have played together or how exorbitant a salary budget is, one team will categorically lose every game.
It’s amazing, the whole losing thing. Because when you become a professional athlete you’re at the top of your game. Pun intended. Yet despite decades of experience and the best coaches and trainers in the world, there will still be strikeouts, wild pitches and blooper-worthy errors.
At one time or another, every player will make a bad throw, drop a fly ball or be tagged out. And despite it all, the game continues.
Even when a team is losing by embarrassing standards. Even when conditions are terrible and the odds stacked against you.
No matter what, one team will lose every game. It’s a painfully simple lesson in perspective.
Growing up I can’t tell you how many times I was reminded that, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” As I’ve gotten older and developed a career (note: not in major league baseball**), I think I’ve forgotten that it really is about how we play, not just who wins.
I put a ton of pressure on myself to do everything right without mistakes or revisions. Which is kind of dumb. It’s an impossible standard that makes it harder to learn and work productively. Looking back, I’ve had far greater success in the moments where I took a reasonable risk and did what instinctually felt right, than in the instances where every action was carefully planned and measured.
After watching a lot of baseball over the past few weeks I’m reminded that making mistakes isn’t just part of learning, it’s the foundation of learning. If I had to recall the biggest mistakes or worst decisions I’ve made at work, each one taught me a huge lesson. This isn’t to say it’s wise to intentionally flounder around in the interest of gaining new skills, it just means that it’s ok to screw up if your heart’s in the right place and you’re trying your best. At least, that’s my theory.
**I played one horribly bad season of softball in the fourth grade. I do not wish to discuss it.