I saw a clip on ESPN of a high school section championship baseball game in New York state that unintentionally taught a pretty tough lesson. After a strikeout and thinking their team just notched a win, the catcher heads to the mound to celebrate. But in a lesser-known rule of baseball, if the catcher drops a third strike, the batter is allowed to run and must be thrown out at first base. In his eagerness to celebrate a win, the catcher misses the ump’s call and loses track of the game. As the team prematurely cheers their victory, the other team’s baserunners cross the plate one by one and take the victory for themselves.
Athletes or not, this clip can teach us a lot about what it takes to be on winning team and the importance of working together and staying the course until the very end.
The bat flip.
The rush to the mound.
The home-plate celebration.
While sports celebrations make great TV, so many of us in life and business focus too much on the celebration and not enough on the work it takes to get there. If you are only playing the game for the glory, you’re focused on the wrong kind of rush. Hustle and hard work are timeless ingredients for winning teams, but you need to also find enjoyment and satisfaction from the team collaboration along the journey.
When the team and I were first imagining Genesis AI – the most advanced hearing aid in the world – I knew it wasn’t going to happen overnight. We needed to pour ourselves into this project. We were trying to do something that hadn’t been done before in our industry. We had to make the sacrifices and put in the time and hard work, and that’s what we did. We rebuilt the hearing aid from the ground up to deliver a device with unmatched sound quality and an unparalleled customer and provider experience. A success like this is only accomplished by a team dedicated to hard work and seeing something all the way through to the end.
While putting in the work doesn’t always guarantee success, stopping early to pat yourself on the back will certainly keep you on the sidelines instead of playing for the win.
Taking Your Eye Off The Ball
In a big game, it’s easy to get distracted. The cheers of the crowd, the buzz of the press – there is a lot going on that can take your focus away from the game. That’s usually when you see otherwise successful teams falter. If you can’t drown out the distractions and allow yourself to get sidetracked by them, that’s when your opponent gets their opportunity for the win. This happens in business as well. You see one month of growth and think everything is great. That false sense of accomplishment can distract a business from its core quickly. Leaders start making decisions based on a short stint of success. One good month means exactly that, one good month. It doesn’t make a person an MVP or mean leaders can take their eyes off the top goal. If you start congratulating each other too early, you lose track of the bigger game at hand. Continue putting in the work, stay focused on the plan, and then see where you stand at the end of the year. That’s when you check the score.
Win As a Team
There are no shortcuts to winning. You must work as a team until the very end, be accountable to them and finish what you started. Those team celebrations that happen after all the work has been done, that’s the sweetest kind of victory.