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  • Writer's pictureRaven Bonniwell

Matt Adams Hits Dingers

A recent development in my life is that I’ve become quite the baseball fan.

For about 28 years, I thought the game was pretty boring and I didn’t want much to do with it. When I met my husband, my eyes were opened to the delights of the great American past-time. I promise this is an article about leadership through the metaphor of baseball.

I get really excited about going to baseball games (specifically Nats games!) but there’s a whole lot I’m still learning. The other day, my husband taught me about “dingers” (which is not as dirty as it sounds out of context).

The Nats have this player, Matt Adams - he’s back on the team this year after having done a stint with the Cardinals. I couldn’t quite remember him from his time on the team before. And then I watched him play…

Fly ball to Matt Adams… should be an easy out. He catches it and then drops it right out of his glove. What?! Now I remember this guy!

“What the hell! Why is he on this team again? Why is he even a professional baseball player?” My husband laughed and explained, “Because Matt Adams hits dingers.” Huh-what now? “He. Hits. Home. Runs.”

Sure enough, the next time Matt (yes I call baseball players by their first names) came up to bat, he smashed one out of the park.

I guess I couldn’t argue with that… But still, don’t a lot of players hit home runs?

My husband, being the incredibly patient man that he is explained, “Yeah, that’s what Matt Adams is here for. He’s a ‘three true outcomes’ hitter. He either hits a home run or he gets out. He doesn’t get base hits.” He went on to explain that Matt probably adjusted his swing to get more power on the homers and further sacrificed ever having the chance of a base hit.

Matt is in the rotation for the moments when you need a home run with the bases loaded. He doesn’t get frustrated when he doesn’t get on base (or maybe he does, I haven’t discussed it with him). We all (now) know what his role is and what he is on the team to do: hit dingers. It’s the same idea when pitchers get switched out for pinch hitters. The pitcher is there to throw fastballs; we can bring someone else in to bat.

Leaders can often see the strengths and weaknesses in the teams they manage, but they aren’t always so adept at seeing their own. High achieving people tend to try to play ALL the positions. It’s like they’re the pitcher, the catcher, and the first baseman all at one time. Imagine the center fielder is injured, and rather than have another outfielder cover that spot, the pitcher throws a pitch and then starts running backwards to catch a fly ball in the outfield!

It would be crazy if a baseball player did that, but as human beings IRL we do it all the time. I get it, delegation can be challenging. But it’s also about worthiness. We often feel that it’s our personal responsibility to fill in all the gaps and we consider it a failure if we don’t. That doesn’t work for baseball and it doesn’t work for life.

As a coach for high achieving people, I help my clients embrace their role as it is, rather than try to be everywhere on the field. Eventually this leads to a sense of relief and teamwork, but it doesn’t come immediately. For a while it feels like you’re not doing enough. It’s a little scary, because it seems like everything is going to fall apart. But with practice and by working on a gradient (see my article: I Hit Homeruns, Moving Through Fear at a Gradient), you’ll start to trust the members of your team.

And here’s the key: you’ll be able to focus more on that home run swing.

By allowing others to do their jobs, you’ll be freed to get even better at yours. So dial in those home run mechanics, and hit that dinger more consistently. That’s what you're here to do!

Originally published on Linked-In


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