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This Major League Pitching Coach Found the Secret to Productivity. It Works for Any Entrepreneur

This simple strategy helps Major League baseball pitchers stay on top of their game. It can also help fuel your focus and boost your business success.

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BY Elisa Boxer - 29 Aug 2018

This Major League Pitching Coach Found the Secret to Productivity. It Works for Any Entrepreneur

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

As entrepreneurs, we're all about outcomes.

We know the sales figures we want to hit, the new products we want to develop, and the capital we need to raise by year's end. We set target numbers of email subscribers, new customer acquisitions, and social media followers.

And while outcomes are certainly important for success, focusing all of our energy there can create pressure and anxiety, since many aspects of these longer-term goals are beyond our control.

As the MLB pennant races heat up, I want to share one of my favorite strategies for focusing on shorter-term actions that are not only well within our control, but that can also help us achieve those longer-term outcomes.

It's a simple strategy that comes from one of the most successful coaches in professional sports, and it's something every entrepreneur should embrace.

Hit the glove.

Rick Peterson, director of pitching development for the Baltimore Orioles and former pitching coach for the Oakland A's during the Moneyball era, is the co-author of Crunch Time: How to be Your Best When it Matters Most. In baseball, he writes, a pitcher can't control umpire calls or runs scored.

If he tries to focus on those things, he'll lose sight of his primary strength, which is the reason he's on the team in the first place: to hit the catcher's glove as often as possible. That's all that matters. Hit the glove.

From a mindfulness perspective, "hit the glove" is a brilliant strategy. It's a strong visual. You're grounded squarely in the present moment, rather than worrying about the future or ruminating on the past.

You're focusing on the task before you, which is an action-based goal, rather than an outcome-based one. And your energy is focused on something you're really good at.

What's your glove?

So, which part of your business is most satisfying, comes most naturally and resonates most deeply? For me, it's writing the words.

In my freelance business, I often get so caught up in scheduling interviews, keeping up with industry trends, researching topics and building my email list, that I can go days without actually doing what I love to do and what got me into this business in the first place: Writing the words.

Ever since reading Peterson's book, I've set a short-term, process-based goal of writing at least 500 words a day. Whether I'm working on an Inc.com column, a children's book, a magazine article, a blog post, client content or a mindfulness workshop outline, 500 words a day is my version of hitting the glove.

It's a goal that is concrete, straightforward, and forces me to open my work-in-progress documents with the regularity I need to keep up the momentum, even on days when longer-term, outcome-based goals need attention.

So what's your version of "hit the glove?" If you're not sure, think about your greatest professional strength; your number-one reason for being in this business. In other words, remember your "why."

Keep it short-term and simple.

Your version of "hit the glove" should be something actionable and manageable that you can do on a daily basis.

Judd Hoekstra, the other co-author of Crunch Time, has worked in sales for years and writes that much of his industry is focused on hitting big numbers, which can create pressure and anxiety, given the unpredictable nature of the business. After learning about Peterson's "hit the glove" mantra, Hoekstra began thinking about his own day-to-day sales version.

He writes that he settled on "high-quality interactions with customers and prospects," and set his target at two of those meaningful interactions per day. It was a daily, short-term, manageable goal that brought him back to what he loved about his business.

As a result of prioritizing those two quality customer interactions per day, Hoekstra writes, his sales skyrocketed and he finished that year more than 25 percent ahead of the previous year's numbers. In other words, his short-term focus on hitting the glove helped him achieve the longer-term goal of winning the series.

So where can you focus on process, rather than outcome? What's one actionable, manageable, concrete goal that you can achieve on a daily basis?

Hint: Remember why you're in the game.

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