What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Baseball

With the 2010 World Series about to begin, a lot of attention has been focused on Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee, who has been historically dominant in the playoffs over the past two years.

Only two pitchers in history, the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax and the Giants’ Christy Mathewson (both Hall of Famers who are considered among the greatest that ever played), have a better postseason ERA (earned run average–a measure of pitching effectiveness).

What makes Lee’s success even more interesting is that he doesn’t have a remarkable fastball. At 91 mph, his fastball is middle-of-the-pack (Reds pitcher Arnoldis Chapman hit 105 mph on the radar gun this year, and other elite pitchers such as the Tigers’ Justin Verlander throw anywhere from 95-98 mph).

Here’s what a recent article had to say:

Texas reliever Darren O’Day refers to Lee as a “technician,” because he never, ever strays from his approach no matter how many runners are on base or how stressful the circumstances. While many pitchers feel an adrenaline rush in big spots and react as if they’re in a high-speed chase, Lee is able to control his emotions, maintain his mechanics and continue to tool along at 5 mph over the speed limit.

Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from Lee’s example.

Nor should it be surprising that we can learn from baseball; think about how often you hear talk of singles and home runs. Now it’s time to push the analogy further.

In the hype-driven world we inhabit, it is very easy to get caught up in our surroundings, whether in the form of TechCrunch articles, tweets, or panicked emails from users or investors.

The constantly growing inbox (and Facebook newsfeed…and RSS reader…and Twitter feed…) practically demand immediate, dramatic action.

Yet in my experience, I’m more likely to get good results from maintaining a calm, disciplined approach. Reach back to throw harder, and I’m likely to miss the strike zone. In the business world, this means jumping from initiative to initiative, and spending my energy on worry.

Personally, I don’t believe in worrying. As long as I keep making the right pitch, I’ll live with the consequences. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the start of the game, or bases loaded with a full count in the bottom of the 9th.

Define your own approach.

Focus and make your pitch.

Don’t waste your energy on worry or agitation.

Follow these baseball lessons, and you’ll be more likely to succeed.

P.S. If anyone wants to bribe me with free World Series tickets, you can get them on StubHub for $450.

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