“What do you think about when you strike out?”
“I’m thinking about the next home run.”
A Babe Ruth story: It’s the summer of 1927, on a beautiful afternoon at Philly stadium is packed with more than thirty five thousand fans. The Athletics were leading the Yankees, 3 to 1. The bases were full and there were two outs when the Babe grabbed his favorite bat and headed to the plate.
The Athletics’ left-handed pitcher was ready. He threw a blazer. Strike one! He threw another ball so fast no one could see it. Babe took a huge swing — and missed! Strike two! Not only did he strike out again, Babe also took a tumble: He had swung at the ball so hard, he literally whirled himself around and off his feet. He sprawled in the dust. The crowd roared. He brushed the dirt from his trousers, wiped off his hands, and got ready for the next pitch.
Another blazer! Babe gave another mighty swing. This time, the Bambino connected with the ball. It sailed over the scoreboard, flew across the street, and disappeared — one of the longest baseball hits ever recorded. The Babe loped around the bases with his teammates for what proved to be the winning run.
Later in the season, an interviewer asked, “Babe, what do you do when you get into a batting slump?” Babe answered, “I just keep goin’ up there and keep swingin’ at ’em. I know the old law of averages will hold good for me the same as it does for anybody else, if I keep havin’ my healthy swings. If I strike out two or three times in a game, or fail to get a hit for a week, why should I worry? Let the pitchers worry; they’re the guys who’re gonna suffer later on.”
Babe didn’t see a strikeout as a failure: he saw it as a worthwhile effort, as another step toward his next home run. What a great attitude! Keep swinging, take the good and bad in stride, meet both failure and success with unruffled calm, and play on: This is a simple strategy that we can use on our own playing field: the page.
Some days, we’re going to “get up to bat,” take a “mighty swing” and “strike out” — whatever we are going for is going to elude us and slip away like a fast ball. Sometimes we’re going to swing so hard and miss so badly that, just like the Babe, we’ll throw ourselves off balance and end up in the dust. When that happens, let’s embrace our inner Bambino and pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and swing again. And write on!