Much of what you are about to read is quoted from Mark Batterson’s book, “Chase the Lion.” This is the most impactful book I've read in quite a while. I hope this story inspires you to read it. Thank you, Mr. Batterson!
In his book, “Chase the Lion,” Mark Batterson tells the story of the picture above. The man touching home plate is Jackie Robinson. The man holding the bat is George Shuba. The date is April 18, 1946. The first African American to play baseball is competing in his first game and has just hit his first home run. The response from the crowd is varied, and so is the response from players on both sides. It was a tough time. Here’s how Batterson describes it.
An Associated Press photographer captured that decisive moment. It was one small handshake, one giant leap for racial equity in professional sports.
George 'Shotgun' Shuba went on to play seven seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was on the 1955 World Series championship team.
In his celebrated baseball book, The Boys of Summer, Roger Kahn said Shuba’s swing was “as natural as a smile.” Shuba laughed at Kahn’s description. During an interview with Kahn, Shuba walked over to a filing cabinet and pulled out a chart marked with lots of Xs. During the off-season, Shuba would swing a weighted bat six hundred times a day. And that was after working his off-season job all day! Every night he’d take sixty swings and then mark an X on his chart.
After ten Xs, he’d give himself permission to go to bed. Shuba practiced that daily ritual for fifteen years!
“You call that natural?” Shuba asked Kahn. “I swung a 44-ounce bat 600 times a 4,200 times a week, 47,200 swings every winter.”
In my humble opinion, no one is a natural. Sure, some people are more naturally gifted than others. But unless that giftedness is coupled with a complementary work ethic, it’ll only result in wasted potential. You can’t just pray as if it depends solely on God; you also have to work as if it depends on you. It’s your work ethic plus your prayer ethic that will inch you closer to your dream. And it happens one practice, one day at a time. (Batterson, Mark. Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It's Too Small (pp. 65-66). The Crown Publishing Group.
There you have it. If you want to know who changes the world, it's the man/women with the bat. But not just on game day. Relentlessly throughout the week, when no one else is swinging the bat, trying to get better, determined to improve their own God-given skills, the George Shuba's of the world are working.
A few questions.
1. Am I relentlessly focused on improving the God-given gifts I have? 2. Do I work more on changing the environment and the people around me than I do on changing myself? 3. What am I doing "every day" to get better? 4. When is the last time I wore out a practice tool?
The final question is my favorite. What's the "bat" in your business? Figure it out, make some "x's" and start swinging!