Perhaps I love the Red Sox because I have a very soft spot in my heart for the city of Boston. I have old pictures of my mother and my grandmother in Boston; I believe they had gone there by train from New Brunswick to do some shopping when my mother was a young woman. It seemed like such a big adventure for them. In my own life, the lure of the Boston Marathon captivated me when I began marathon running. I was lucky enough to participate in that marathon three times and on each trip to the City of Champions, I understood more and more what makes it so special.
As I sat watching and knitting and cheering on Friday evening, as inning nine turned into ten, then eleven, then fifteen and finally eighteen, I became intrigued with the strategies being employed by the coaching staff. I was especially curious about the maneuvering used with the choices for pitchers. It dawned on me that the dilemma managers face regarding the pitchers, is very similar to dilemmas we all face regularly in life: Do we go for the short-term goal of achieving the immediate ‘win’, or do we make strategic moves that will benefit our bigger game? Or perhaps, is it possible to do both?
On Friday evening, a total of nine pitchers were used by the Sox. As the evening drew darker, turned to night and eventually turned to the next day, the managers had to be wondering not only how to win the current game (which they did not) and also how to save enough ‘good arms’ for the game scheduled for Saturday, which it already was by the time the ‘Friday’ game finished. This situation is one we know well.
Often, we find ourselves completely immersed in a scene in our life that completely absorbs our time and focus. Sometimes this scene is a very short one, perhaps an afternoon, (I just have to get this job done) sometimes it is longer, perhaps a week or more (I just need to get this report submitted by Friday) and sometimes we are engrossed for so long that one season turns into the next (once the merge happens, or once the school year ends…). No matter the length of the project or passion occupying our time, if we are very lucky or very aware, during the process of this busyness, we take a breath and realize that we may be losing sight of our greater goal as we get caught up in the urgency of what is immediately before us.
This is a real dilemma for anyone passing through this life. There is always a balancing act required between the important work of getting our tasks and jobs completed, and in honouring our bigger vision. Successful companies have leaders who take great pride in their daily achievements, but who also regularly remind others and model for them, what is most important in the bigger picture. Successful people do the same. They practice excellence in small daily activities, but do not trick themselves into believing that it is the completion of these things that will, in the end, create a happy or successful life. They learn to look up to make sure the ladder they are climbing is placed on the right wall.
After the Red Sox loss on Friday night, a Saturday night win seemed even more important. With so many pitchers needing a day off, I wondered who might be able to get the job done. I kept thinking, ‘If you don’t get this win, the momentum will have shifted and you may have lost the chance for a Series win’. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one willing the manager to insert Price into the game toward the end. I was watching Price warming up in the bull pen and urging him (perhaps out loud) to be played. I was certain that going for the short-term goal and temporarily setting aside the bigger goal was the right thing to do. I would have been completely misguided. This is why I am not paid millions to manage a professional baseball team.
The powers that be in this game recognized the value of completing the important, urgent task of successfully winning the game, without losing sight of their bigger goal. On Sunday night, they proved themselves right as Price pitched into the seventh inning, leading them to the Series victory, their second World Series Championship in as many years.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘Where is my ladder placed?’
Elizabeth creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. She provides leadership and personal coaching for individuals and groups. Contact Elizabeth to help make sure you place your ladder on the correct wall.