Sunday, November 1, 2015

Doing the Right Things Well

This is not a blog about baseball, so hang in there with me. This is a blog about one of the reasons that people fail. To illustrate, this blog will be about Kansas City Royal relief pitcher, Wade Davis.

Last night, he was called upon by his manager to record a two inning save. That he was successful should have come as a surprise to absolutely no one. In his post-season career, Mr. Davis has pitched 31 innings and given up a grand total of only 3 runs, as close to a sure thing as it gets. But what people forget about Wade Davis is that for the first five years of his career in the big leagues, he was about as ordinary as it was possible to be. 

See, from 2009 until half way through 2013 his bosses had made him a starting pitcher, and as a starter, he was the very definition of average. He made 88 starts and compiled a record of 33 wins and 33 losses with a unimpressive ERA of 4.45. Those are the kind of numbers that make for a short, undistinguished career. But then somebody suggested that maybe he should become a reliever. Suddenly, Wade Davis became the reincarnation of Cy Young. The numbers are simply off the charts.
As a relief pitcher, he has thrown 171 innings, struck out 230 batters, walked only 43, allowed a mere 71 hits, and given up a grand total of 20 runs. Those are the type of numbers that not only get you into the Hall of Fame, they start renaming streets after you! 

So, what was the difference? What transformed Wade Davis from average to phenomenal? 

Success in life isn't just about doing things well, it's about doing the right things well. Wade Davis could clearly pitch well enough to become a big league pitcher, but he didn't find real success until he found the right niche for his individually unique style of pitching. As a starter he was ordinary, as a guy who comes in to get only three of four outs, he was and is unhittable. 

I believe that everyone has at least the potential for doing great things. The fact that most people don't  is the result of settling for good enough instead of pushing for more, pushing for great. Sometimes it's laziness, more often, I think, it's just a matter of failing to find that niche, that subtle shift in focus that can transform people from good to great.

Wade Davis was going along just fine as a mediocre big league ball player when suddenly, a subtle change in his job description turned him into a star and landed him in my blog! I'm sure he'll be thrilled to check that one off his bucket list!