I love baseball.
Even if you’re not a fan of the game, I encourage you to read on. As you’ll see, the challenge of hitting a baseball is a great metaphor for learning how to excel in the game of life. I found 10 Lessons we can apply from the game of baseball that can lead to a better life. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
The more you study baseball, the more intriguing it becomes. There’s nothing like the duel between an all-star pitcher and a professional slugger.
“What should I throw next?” vs. “What do I think he’ll throw?”
Gamesmanship. Psychology. Drama.
My wife and I watch a lot of baseball. #GoBraves
But what, you may ask, does baseball have to do with life?
Quite a bit, as it turns out. So tune in, we’re talking baseball today.
More importantly, we’re teaching you how to hit, regardless of what the pitcher throws while you’re standing in the batter’s box of life.
Let’s play ball!We spend our lives in the batter's box, trying to hit whatever pitch comes our way. What does it take to excel in the game of Life? Click To Tweet
Life In The Batter’s Box
My favorite baseball player is Ronald Acuna Jr, the right fielder for the Atlanta Braves (I’ll accept that Shohei Ohtani may be even better, but bear with me…I’m a Braves fan). Acuna can hit, he can run, he can catch, and he has a cannon for an arm. Every time he comes to bat, you expect big things. Every time he gets a chance to throw a runner out, you know he’ll get his man. Don’t even get me started on his prowess running the bases.
The guy is amazing.
If you’ve never seen him play, I’ve attached a highlight reel for your viewing pleasure. He did ALL of this in June, including that amazing 464′ home run at the 0:20 second mark.
Try as they might, pitchers never seem to be able to get around this guy’s bat.
He hits everything. More importantly, he always seems like he’s having fun out there. Just a guy enjoying a game that he’s very, very good at.
We should all strive to be like Ronald Acuna.
10 Lessons From The Batter’s Box of Life
The skills we need to hit the ball in this game called life are different than the skills Ronald Acuna possesses. However, there are some things we can learn from this world-class slugger that will help us deal with every pitch that comes our way. Here are 10 lessons I came up with as I wrote today’s post. I’m asking you to jump into the comments and see if there are others you can add.
Let’s play ball…
1. Keep It Fun. In 2019, Acuna signed a $100 Million 8-year contract extension. Baseball is a real business. But somehow, that doesn’t seem to impact his childlike joy of playing the game. Of all the things I love about Acuna, his genuine joy is my favorite trait. The way he jokes around with the other players. The way he pretends he can’t see the fly ball as it’s flying toward him in the outfield. His infectious smile. Yes, he’s working hard out there, just like we do in our game of life.
But he enjoys every minute of it, and so should we.
2. Be Present In The Moment. When Acuna comes to the plate, he’s 100% focused on hitting the ball. There’s real value in learning to be present in the moment, and it’s something our society tries to delude (the distraction of social media comes to mind). When you’re doing something, do it. Focus on it. When I walk the dogs in the woods each morning, I like to practice being present. What birds do I hear? What does the air feel like against my skin? What does the wind sound like as it moves through the trees? What does the sky look like?
Practice being present. It’s easier to hit the ball if you’re 100% focused on the pitch.
3. Study The Game. As the camera pans the dugout, you’ll often see Acuna holding an iPad and watching videos of the current pitcher. In the same way, we can study our “opponent,” that unseen pitcher who seems to be trying to outsmart us with his stuff. Learn to expect the unexpected. Learn that change is constant, and a vigilant batter is one who is prepared for that nasty curveball. Of course, stocks will enter a bear market, it’s part of the game. Of course, your retirement transition will be a major change in your life. Study and prepare for the pitcher you’re facing, you’ll learn about his arsenal and be more prepared to hit that curveball when it comes your way.
There’s nothing better than hitting a curve ball in the game of life.
4. Life Takes Practice. Acuna was born with innate skills, but those skills have been honed with countless hours in a batting cage perfecting his swing. In the same way, we’re all born with certain skills, but it takes hours of practice to sharpen the skills we need to win in the game of life. We’re focused on self by nature, and it takes practice to develop empathy. In relationships, it takes practice to learn to focus on the needs of others over self. Delayed gratification gets easier with practice. Exercise becomes routine if you practice it often enough.
Be intentional during your time in the batting cage, and develop the skills you need to excel in the game.
5. Learn From Your Strikeouts. Acuna strikes out 12.5% of the times he comes to bat. That’s far better than the league average of 22.7%, but it still means he strikes out a lot. No one gets through life without the occasional strikeout. Don’t sweat it. Focus on what you can learn from the experience and move on. Don’t dwell on your failures.
Use them as opportunities to learn to change your swing the next time you see that pitch.
6. Enjoy The Game. It’s important to focus on enjoying the game of life as we play it. I was struck by the following comment left by Darrell in my most recent post Why 72% of Retirees Are Happy. He’s found a creative way to view the quest for “Purpose,” a way that reminded me that life is a game we should all learn to enjoy. Yes, we’re working hard out there, but we can all find ways to enjoy the game:
“It may be that I have too many years of corporate planning in my background, but “Purpose” as a label sounds formal and rigid. It implies mastery. That’s why I like calling it a game to play. Games only require trying to win and have a good time while doing it.”
7. Give Yourself Time. Acuna was 21 years old when he made his MLB debut in 2018, becoming the NL Rookie of the Year. The following year he became an MLB All-Star. As young as he was, it didn’t happen overnight. He was signed as an international free agent in 2014 and spent several years in the minor leagues, playing for both the Gulf Coast Braves and the Danville Braves before he developed the skills required to play at the MLB level.
Likewise, if you’re struggling with the transition to retirement, recognize it takes time to develop the skills required to play your new game. Think back to your first year on the job. Were you an All-Star, or did it take some time to adjust to the big leagues? Be patient, and expect to work your way through the Minor Leagues.
If a natural-born hitter like Acuna took a few years, it’s reasonable to expect you’ll require the same.
8. Don’t Swing At Every Pitch. It takes 0.425 seconds for a fastball to reach the plate. I’m constantly amazed at the ability of a hitter to determine a ball from a strike. In less than half a second, the hitter has to determine whether to swing, then initiate the motion in his bat to swing it where he expects the ball to be. Acuna only swings at 68.9% of the pitches thrown to him, making contact with an astonishing 84.6% of the balls he swings at. We can all learn something from Acuna’s decision to NOT swing at over 30% of the pitches he sees. Excelling in the game of life involves deciding what we’re NOT going to do with our time. Not everything deserves our attention.
Learn to decipher between the things that matter and the things that don’t.
9. Listen To Your Coach. If one of the best hitters in the world still listens when his coach gives advice, how can we justify doing anything less? Even if you’re a DIY’er, learn to really listen when you get advice from your spouse, your child, or a trusted confidant. All of us have blind spots, and sometimes it takes a well-intended piece of advice from someone we trust to help us see it.
Learn to listen. Learn to see.
10. Celebrate Your Home Runs. I love the current trend in the MLB to have a “home run hat” of some sort that the deserving slugger gets to wear after his home run. It’s fun, and a helpful reminder to take time to celebrate your victories.
Freedom For Fido is completing our 100th fence build today, and we’re taking time to celebrate. We’re hosting a “100 for 100” party at a local microbrew, and hoping to have 100 members of the “Fido Family” join us tomorrow evening to celebrate our 100th fence. We have some fun planned for the evening as our way of saying “thank you” to all the people who made it all possible.
Take time to celebrate your successes in life.
While I recognize baseball is just a game, and far from the most important thing in life, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from studying the game. Here are the 10 Lessons we can apply from baseball that will help us excel in the batter’s box of life:
- Keep It Fun
- Be Present in The Moment
- Study The Game
- Life Takes Practice
- Learn From Your Strikeouts
- Enjoy The Game
- Give Yourself Time
- Don’t Swing at Every Pitch
- Listen To Your Coach
- Celebrate Your Home Runs
Always seek out creative new ways to learn. It’s a fun mental challenge and something I enjoy doing. At first glance, it seems a long bridge between Ronald Acuna and actionable steps we can all take to improve our lives. If you search hard enough, however, you’ll find a connection. I spent an hour or so coming up with the 10 lessons in this post. I’m hoping you can add some more in the comments. Challenge yourself, and have some fun.
Study the best in the world and apply their secrets to your life.
In the end, you’ll be more prepared for that next curve ball. You may even hit a home run.
Your life will be better as a result.
PS: Credit to reader J. Wightman for planting the original seed for this post with a comment he left in “Why 28% of Retirees Are Depressed” – here’s the sentence that put my brain into motion, and ultimately led to today’s post:
“Now that I am in the batter’s box I am hoping not to get beaned.”
Your Turn: Which of the “batting tips” most resonated with you? Why? Are there any other lessons we can learn from baseball that will improve our performance in the game of life? Let’s chat in the comments…