Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Just One Hit, The Splendid Splinter, and the Jesus Way

   The Midsummer Classic is nearly upon us. The All-Star Game in Major League Baseball, that has seen the best of the National and American Leagues face off against each other since its inception in 1933, is set for next Tuesday the 16th in New York City and will be hosted by the Mets. The starting fielders are selected by the fans, the pitchers by the managers, and the reserves by other players and fans. It will feature some incredible athletes who play the sport, cherished by boys and girls around the world, at a level unlike others. These guys are good. Yet, the difference that separates the best from the rest is narrow. Really, it comes down to just one hit. Consider this: 
a batter that successfully hits 3 times in 12 at-bats has an average of .250
a batter that successfully hits 4 times in 12 at-bats has an average of .333
Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox
"Splendid Splinter"
   The difference in the results is enormous, but the difference in hits is so slight. Just one hit more in each 12 at-bats is the difference in being an average player versus one of the greatest. Ted Williams,  probably the best hitter ever, finished his career with a .344 average. You can see that in many respects just one hit separated Williams from the rest.
   The implications are many. Perfection is not required for greatness - even the great ones fail often. The little moments and experiences can add up and alter the trajectory of where we are headed by significant amounts. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said, "For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it," in Matthew 7.
   I was listening this week to Chip Heath, a Stanford University professor and author on leadership and human behavior, talk about this very stuff. He applies it to leadership and says if we would focus on preparing for one better at-bat, it could change everything. This is what I am praying about and pondering: how can we prepare for the next six months to put the ball in play better than ever before? How can our leaders ask great questions and pursue better Spirit-led answers? We will not always reach successfully, but neither did some of the best ever.
   Grace and Peace to you (and Go Braves), Scott

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