This particular 10-year-old isn’t a sales professional, but he’s a professional nonetheless. I was at my son’s baseball game last night and witnessed something that was nothing short of amazing — on so many levels.
Our team plays a pretty competitive level of baseball. The boys are talented, but above all they have a passion for playing the game. Not one or two of them, but the whole team. From this passion, I witnessed something I am pretty sure I may never see again on a little league field.
It was late in the game, our team was on the field, there were two outs, and runners on second and third. The batter hit a long drive to left field (just to the center field side of where the left fielder was positioned). It was hit hard and, even though he was closest, I wasn’t sure the left fielder would be able to get to the ball. As I was watching him close in on the ball, out of nowhere the center fielder came into my view. At a dead sprint, with his back basically turned to the infield, he dove – in mid-air, completely stretched out – to catch the ball, landed hard (while still outstretched) and held on. He immediately jumped up, held up his glove to show he had the ball and did the most enthusiastic fist pump I have ever seen.
The whole scene was amazing. It was as athletic a play as you could ever witness. He was swarmed by his teammates and the parents went insane. I walked over to exchange high-fives with his dad and grandpa. As I was standing with them, I realized the lessons we should all learn from this 10-year-old professional: grandpa turned to dad and said, “I guess all of those hours in the yard of him making us hit him balls so he could practice diving catches finally paid off.”
Can you believe that?! The play wasn’t a fluke; he had practiced and prepared for that very moment. Despite the unbelievable odds against ever having the opportunity to make that play in a game situation, he practiced for it. Just in case.
Lessons learned from a 10-year-old professional
Don’t be intimidated by opportunities - This was a play for the left fielder. Most center fielders would have never even moved towards the ball because it was so “unreachable.” Not this kid, he committed from the moment the ball left the bat.
What are your “unreachable” opportunities? Do you allow yourself to be intimidated from going after those “once-in-a-lifetime” accounts? Don’t sit and watch someone else attempt the play. Go after it from the moment you recognize the opportunity. You’ll never regret attempting the play, but there are many regrets that start with “If only I had tried to…”
Give it everything you’ve got – If he had hesitated at all, if he hadn’t run as fast as he could, if he wouldn’t have sacrificed himself by diving for the ball, he would have never made the play. Take any one of those out of the equation, and it would have still been a great effort, but he would have never made the out.
Selling opportunities don’t happen every day, and when they do, you have to do everything you can to close the deal. Use every resource, team member, center of influence, and strategy at your disposal. Great effort is commendable, but, at the end of the day, all that matters are your results.
Prepare for extreme situations – The chances of him ever having to make that play in a game situation were extreme, but it happened. It happened, and because he had already made that play dozens of times in his backyard, he was able to do so when it really counted.
How hard do you prepare for your opportunities? Do you wing it? Do you ask someone in the office to role-play with you and make them challenge you the way a real prospect will? Do you do research and learn what drives success of your prospect to the point of understanding of how you can contribute to their success? Do you so thoroughly prepare for your opportunities that you have already “closed the deal” a dozen times before you find yourself in the game situation? Not many do, and for those who don’t, can you/they really be called a professional?
In case you’re wondering if the play really made a difference in the outcome of the game...we won by one run. If he didn’t make the play, the runners on second and third would have scored and we would have lost. Yeah, it made a difference.
Final lesson – Practice the way you want to play the game because you will play the game the way you practice.
There are few true professionals in any field, but witnessing one (even a 10-year-old baseball player) in action is truly inspirational. It takes another level of commitment, and it takes preparing for scenarios that may never occur. But just think of how easy a routine grounder is if you have prepared to make diving catches.
This is a level of performance that may not be for everyone, it may not be for you, but then again, maybe you just need to recommit. Ask yourself every day you play or practice, “How badly do I really want it?”
Originally published on Zywave.com.
Photo by Ed Garcia.