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“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” Babe Ruth
An interviewer once posed the following question to the immortal Bambino: “Babe, what do you do when you get in a batting slump?” The Babe replied: “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 thee ties 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.”
Now consider this: For years, Babe Ruth’s amazing record of 714 home runs was unapproachable. But what most people don’t know is that he had another unapproached world’s record: He struck out more than any player in history. He failed 1,330 times.
Think about this for a moment: One thousand three hundred and thirty times the mighty slugger got up to bat, struck out, and endured the humiliation of walking back to the Yankee dugout after getting up to bat, swinging … and missing. But he never let the fear of failure knock him flat. In fact, when he struck out, he didn’t view it as a failure, but as effort – a step in the right direction that was bringing him close to his next home run.
The law of averages worked for the Babe and it can work for us, too. Somewhere out there, some of us are struggling with our creative work. We may be striking out, not on the baseball diamond, but on our field of play – the page. You may be one of them.
We may be struggling to complete a story or novel, but feeling lost.
We may feel muddling through another round of revisions that aren’t going well.
We may be submitting stories to journals or publishers and getting turned down.
We may be searching for an agent to represent our work and coming up empty.
Whatever we’re facing, we need to make the law of averages work for us – we need to keep on slugging. The more we put ourselves in play — the more exposure we give ourselves — the closer we come to hitting our own personal home run.
I know, it’s tough. Getting up to bat and striking out is no fun. But it helps to remember that each strike-out – each rejection, each pass, each bump in the road — isn’t a failure but a step forward. And the more we get up to bat, the sooner that home run comes our way!
So let’s take a tip from the Babe: A strikeout is just a set-up for a home run. Write on!