As I watched the Texas Rangers take on the Tampa Bay Rays this evening, the commentators for ESPN made mention to the new breed of baseball player taking the "imaginations of fans to a new place." As they talked on, I began to think that the newest faces of baseball are not sitting atop inflated necks and steroid induced unnatural muscles as we've seen in recent years. This new crop of ball players are playing the game the way it was meant to be played with skills that show they are true students of the game.
Baseball is a game that, when understood, can be appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed for all of it nuances and strategy. It is a game that rewards risk, relies on team, and in the end is won by those that find the right combination of speed and power. The champions of the ball field are above all else scrappy. They manufacture runs, create opportunities, and exploit the mistakes of their opponents. The best baseball games to watch are the ones filled with double plays, stolen bases, and diving catches. The pitchers duels and the walk off home runs. When played with an understanding of the rules and how far you can push them, it can get very exciting very quickly. It means playing smart small ball, not dumbing down the game by illegally beefing up your batters.
The same will continue to be proved true in business. There is a new breed of business owners, entrepreneurs, and titans of industry emerging. These new faces are not perched atop inflated balance sheet or debt induced unnaturally leveraged corporations as we've seen in recent years. This new crop of players in the business world are changing the status quo, challenging those that have come before them to a higher standard, and never succumbing to the intellectual laziness that is evident from a response like, "Because that is the way it has always been done."
Business is a game that rewards risk, relies on your team, and in the end will be won by those that create the new and innovative ways of thinking that will forever change the playing field. The champions of this new era of business will rise up from the shambles of the "too big to fail" government subsidized corporations and strike out on their own to do it the right way, the hard way, and the only way that creates an honest reward and a sustainable competitive advantage: scrappiness. By making the choice to never stop learning, to never stop asking questions, and always seeking a better way. It means working smarter, not dumbing down business by illegally beefing up your balance sheets.
Good fundamentals and excellent small ball is the future of baseball.
Great fundamentals and stellar scrappiness is the future of business.
I do some of my best thinking on planes. I don't fit into coach very well, so I have to do something to not think about the lack of leg room I am currently experiencing. While traveling this week, I took four flights and as is my custom, caught up on some reading. This month's GQ had a great article with LeBron James. In the Q&A session there were a couple of questions asked by the editorial staff that caught my eye: GQ: Best defender in the league on you? LB: Myself.
GQ: No, the best defender against you. LB: I’m the only guy who can stop me.
This exchange jumped out at me as one of exceptional awareness and individual accountability. There are so many victims out there blaming everyone and anyone beside the person starring back at them in the mirror. Regardless of the gifts and background and experiences that we've been dealt, we have the chance to make something great. So often, I know that I am the only reason that I didn't hit the goal or achieve the objective. Were there other factors, sure. But when it all boils down, it was me.
Another question that I thought was telling was in relation to his expectations of himself and his vision for how big his potential truly is.
GQ: You said in the past you wanted to be the first athlete to make a billion dollars. What was the significance to you of that number? LB: I was basically saying I want to maximize my potential as a businessman. I don’t want to look back twenty years from now and think, Why didn’t I do this when I had the muscle? It’s not, I made a billion, yay, let confetti rain. It’s all about maximizing potential.
Yeah - He's 24. Get excited about a lot of King James' potential being maximized for years to come.
Excerpt from my conversation with myself this morning in the mirror - "This week is the last real week of 2008. The last full week to make 2008 the year you hoped it would be on December 15, 2007. It is truly the bottom of the ninth and you are the batter that the game is riding on. This is your fourth and goal with no time outs. The pressure of the inbound play with 2.4 seconds left on the clock and you need a 3 pointer is nothing compared to what is riding on this week. Now you know what it feels like to have to chip in from the rough to win the Masters.
So what are you going to do? Do you have it in you? Is it possible that everything else that took place this year all comes down to this moment? Nothing else matters. Not what did or didn't happen the way you thought it should. The outside forces that changed your trajectory mean nothing now. The tough calls you made that put you in a tough spot are in the past and you have moved on. The naysayers and critics hold nothing over you in this moment, they stand coldly by in the shallow safety of the stands secretly wishing they had the chance that you do right now.
This is the moment that everything else in your past has prepared you for and it comes down to a very simple question: 'Will capture it or just let it slip?'"
Or another way to say it:
"Pain is temporary. Quitting last forever." - Lance Armstrong
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." - Mario Andretti
"It is always too soon to quit." - Norman Vincent Peale
Watching Adrian Peterson and the Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers today was an interesting game. The Vikings should have completely cleaned the Packers clocks with how many mistakes the cheeseheads made, but with less than 3 minutes to go, the Pack was up by 6.
Then Adrian Peterson did what all great leaders, in sports and every other aspect of life, do. He took complete control of the tough situation and put the fate of his team on his shoulders, asked for the ball every play, and ran down hill to the win. His 30+ yard run in for the touchdown was a perfect example of his "running angry" philosophy. Al Harris looked like he kinda wanted to catch All Day, but not really. The ferocity on Peterson face when he took his helmet off would have been enough to scare even the bravest of men.
Let the man crush continue.
The commotion started months ago and has culminated in the city of Dallas, and perhaps more specifically the bars, being over run my burnt orange and crimson. As i walked to Starbucks this morning, there was a caravan without end driving down Greenville Avenue headed for the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. Every seat was full and window flags and magnetic decals left little to the imagination which team each car's passengers would be routing for. Now, it is important to note that this is at 8:30 in the morning. For whatever reason, the big game starts at 11am. For more reasons than anyone can begin to count, that is much too early in the day for two pretty good footballs team to play on the national stage. But according to the facebook status of my tu and o-who friends, the tailgating and intoxicated revelry has begun. So my words of wisdom on this weekend of boomer/horns insanity: enjoy the game from the safety of the suburbs or at least from your neighborhood walking distance bar and then go have lunch.
It all started my sophomore year at Texas A&M when, like most of my peers, I thought sorority t-shirts were the measure of a man. I was part of an ever growing population of "cotton whores" that would do pretty much anything for an event t-shirt and that adhered strictly to the "three day rule." When I packed up my dresser senior year I had managed to accumulate over 70 t-shirts from specific events in college. And now, the shoppers of the Bryan/College Station Goodwill are boasting to the world that they were at the 2002 Chi-O Gangstas in Paradise Crush party.I am a Dallas Cowboys fan, always have been. Emmitt, Troy, and Michael were a large part of my growing up years. I am excited about Marion, Tony, and Terrell and about Forbes recent valuation of the team as the most valuable franchise in America. But this morning I am wearing a fitted blue New England Patriots hat. Why on earth you ask? Because it has the One Key logo on the side of the hat. We sponsored a golf tournament for the Patriots Charitable Foundation awhile back and while working out of our corporate offices last month, I found the stash of hats. So this morning as I sat at my neighborhood Starbucks, I noticed some looks of curiosity as to my choice of team swag. But what they weren't paying attention to was the logo on the side of the hat that I was really associating myself with.