013: Ted Williams and The Art Of Failing
Ted Williams is one of the greatest that ever lived at hitting a baseball, and more often than not, he failed at doing just that.
I’ve always been a fan of baseball, I played it a lot growing up. Watched the Jays win in ‘92 and ‘93, and I still try to get out to a few games every year. Some people find the game too slow and boring, but I find that it's part of the appeal. There are so many things we do in this day and age at such a rapid pace - I find it nice to slow down sometimes and enjoy the process. And baseball is a process. It’s a long grueling season. A major league team plays 162 games a year, not to mention any playoff games. But I think one of the things I love most about baseball is its relationship with failure. This is something that is often missed, but is very important.
Ted Williams is known as one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, he is also the last play in history to hit .400 for a season. A players batting average is a representation of how many hits they get when they have a chance to bat. If you bat .300 over a career, you’re an elite hitter. An All-Star. You can make a case for the Hall Of Fame. In 1941, Ted Williams hit .406, it was an amazing achievement and people celebrate that number. But what I also see is the other side of that number. It’s a percentage - so 40% of the time he got a hit. The flip side being that 60% of the time he batted, he failed. One of the best hitters in the history of baseball failed 60% of the time.
We all know what failure feels like and the state it puts you in; you don’t want to keep trying. It's easier to give up. Now imagine that at best you fail 60% of the time, imagine what that does to you over time in your career. It’s a mental game. You have to overcome that, you have to be able to brush it off and get back to the plate. Accepting failure is a key part of what you do. You need to embrace failure, be OK with it, and understand that it is just a part of life. You will not succeed every time. You will get rejected, people won’t respond, you’ll be ignored and brushed off on a daily basis in this industry - but that is just taking your swings. You can’t hit the ball if you don’t step to the plate. And in order to step to the plate and succeed you need to understand that you will fail more often than not.
Baseball is a beautiful game, and I think it can give us great insight into day to day life. There is so much intensity around each play, but that tension is lifted when the action stops. Everyone takes a breath, resets, and gets ready for the next moment. We need to bring that same approach into our day to day lives. Embrace the fact that you will fail more often than not, but enjoy the sunshine and the smell of the grass. Get out there and take your swings.