- “Hope for the best, but…”
- The truly Great know that preparation is the key to success.
I’m a big fan of people who understand their “WHY.” I’m big fan, too, of those who ask “WHY NOT?” That’s why I’m rooting for Jamie Moyer.
While some people might consider a 49-year-old pitcher to be “over the hill,” Moyer prefers to picture himself standing firmly on top of the hill . . . or, to be more exact, on top of the pitcher’s mound. Even though he is eyeing the half-century mark this year, Moyer can still hurl a ball with the best of them-the very best. In fact, he is currently in spring training with the Colorado Rockies, his eighth organization since his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1986. He is competing for a spot in the Rockies rotation against several players who weren’t even born in 1986!
“I figured my daily life is going to incorporate playing catch, throwing batting practice playing golf and some physical activity,” Moyer, a father of eight, told reporters at spring training. “So why not rehab (my injury) all the way and just see how I feel. Why not pitch?”
So what is the secret to his incredible longevity in a world that is dominated by (much) younger men? It comes down to one word: preparation.
When I interviewed Moyer for an article two years ago, he shared a story that has stayed with me. He explained that, in 1989 while he was still playing for the Cubs, he noticed teammate Vance Law scribbling furiously on a notepad after every single at-bat. When Moyer questioned what he was doing, Law explained that he made notes to himself in the dugout about every pitch that had just been thrown-types of pitches, details about the way they looked, and any other patterns or clues that might help him out the next time he was at bat in detecting what the pitcher might be planning to throw. It was all about preparing for the next opportunity he had at the plate.
Moyer realized that if a batter was preparing for him, he should be doing the same time. “I knew then that taking notes and preparing better for every batter in every game would be important,” he told me. He began studying every hitter he was going to face, learning their stances, strengths, vulnerabilities, and quirks. He used these notes to devise a plan for pitching to each player on the opposing roster.
And, more than 25 years later, that habit is still paying off. In fact, when he pitched his last MLB game in June of 2010 (he missed the 2011 season due to injuries), Moyer was already the oldest player in the majors and had racked up more strikeouts,wins, and losses than any other pitcher still active. And now, as regular season rosters are finalized for Opening Day next week, he takes to the mound again in spring training, he stands poised to break all of his own records again simply because he is not afraid of doing a little extra preparation to give himself, and his team, the best possible opportunity each time he winds up.
Tips from the Great Ones
What are you doing each day as you prepare to step up to the “pitcher’s mound” in your own career? How well prepared are you for the opponents you’re about to face? Whether it’s a sale you want to make, a deal you hope to close, a client you hope to snag, or even a difficult co-worker you’re trying to win over, a little bit of preparation can make all the difference.
Study your situation and learn everything you can about what your customers’ needs might be, or a prospective client’s specific concerns. Learn the names of family members and the hobbies or interests of whomever your contact point may be.
Pay attention to what that difficult co-worker responds positively to-or, at least, what makes him or her act slightly less difficult. By investing just a little extra time to focus on a few key details, you can help to build that relationship, giving it personal attention and hopefully making it a long-lasting one. You might also think about what you did well and what you didn’t. Was there an approach that failed?
Now – and here’s the greatest tip Moyer offered – write those thoughts and tips down. There’s ample research that we all find it easier to do those things we commit to writing.
Just like Jamie Moyer, we may find ourselves pleasantly surprised by how far, and how long, our preparation can carry us on the road to Greatness!