Baseball fans know that most of the great home run hitters also have unusually high strike out
rates. The most revered of these players, Babe Ruth, once advised a fan: "Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”
But most of us are too afraid of striking out to swing hard enough and often enough to hit home runs. Instead, we wait for some perfectly
pitched ball and hope to swing just hard enough so we can be sure we’ll make contact. Taking mighty swings is not for us, because there’s always a chance we could strike out.
Beth, a newly appointed 30-year-old sales manager for an investment brokerage branch office, was getting terrible results. New advisors weren’t staying with her, and the sales of her veteran advisors were drastically declining.
I discovered that Beth was agonizing over every decision she had to make. She would constantly seek the help of her irritated regional manager and make excuses to her advisors about why she didn’t have immediate answers for them.
“I usually have a gut feeling about the right response,” she told me, ”but then I start to question it, and I end up not being able to make a decision.”
“Would your situation actually be any worse if you just gave in to that gut feeling and took your chances?” I asked her.
“It couldn’t be much worse,” she admitted, “I’m going to lose my job if I keep running to my boss with every question from the field.”
I asked Beth to experiment for the next week by just giving in — all the way — to those “gut feelings
” she had mentioned every time she was presented with a work decision. She promised that she would.
Two days before our next appointment, Beth called me, excited. "I had to make a decision about how a sale would be structured and I did what we said,” she exclaimed. ”I followed my gut and gave my veteran advisor my opinion right there on the spot — and it was a home run! Later,” she told me, ”I heard him tell another one of my advisors that I had given him great advice
Like any of us, Beth is sure to make mistakes in the workplace, but practicing taking mighty swings will continue to serve her much better than did her fear of striking out.