After a recent talk I gave on leadership, I was surprised when one of the guys in the audience came up at the end and introduced himself to me. He said, “You don’t know me, but my name is Mike Lum. I really appreciate what you had to say”
I thought to myself, This is unbelievable, I do know you. You are my boyhood hero.
Mike Lum was a first-baseman for the 1974 Atlanta Braves. I was the first-baseman for Brooks Insurance Agency in the 12-year-old little league in Chatsworth, Georgia. While others were star-struck by Hank Aaron, it was Mike Lum who won my admiration. Us first-basemen stick together.
My conversation, last month, with Lum landed on the subject of hitting. Turns out, hitting a baseball has a lot in common with leadership.
Lum, who is a hitting instructor in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, told me, “Hitting a baseball boils down to four things. Vision, balance, rhythm, and timing.”
Great leaders appreciate the importance of all four . . .
Vision – Someone once said, “Without a vision, the people perish.” If you don’t have a vision for what you are trying to do, you have no chance of “hitting” your target. In fact, no vision means you don’t even know what your target is.
Once you identify your vision, aim small. Think about a great hitter. If he aims at a spot on the ball and misses by an inch, he still makes decent contact. If he aims at the ball and misses by an inch, he strikes out. The more you are able to focus and narrow your vision, the more likely you are to hit the bullseye.
Balance – Great athletes are masters of balance. They perform from their core. Likewise, the best leaders are really good at keeping the pendulum from swinging to far to one side. They have core principles and remain true to them.
There will never be a time when you don’t feel pulled in many directions. I have a friend who says, “Balance is learning to live in the center of the tension.” The key word is, they “learn.”
Rhythm – Without rhythm, athletes fail. So do leaders. There are times to push and times to back off. Times to bust it and times to rest.
The best leaders understand the seasonal nature of pursuing the vision. If you sense your team is tired, maybe a day off is in order. If everyone is bored, then raise the bar.
Timing – Often times, great decisions are more about timing than they are about brains. Just like a hitter must time his swing, a leader must also master the moment. Move too fast and you risk being reckless. Decide too slow and the train leaves without you.
You can do the right thing, but at the wrong time, and still end up with a mess on your hands. Pay attention to what and when.
A great reminder from my boyhood hero . . . vision, balance, rhythm, and timing. Hopefully they will serve you well too.
Which of the four (vision, balance, rhythm, and timing) needs some attention from you in the coming week?