Friday, October 29, 2021
Last Saturday, the Atlanta Braves clinched a World Series berth by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4 – 2 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in Atlanta. It was another accomplishment in an improbable season for the Braves, who sat in 3rd place in their division in May, having never, to that point, been above .500 all season.
It was then, that the team’s management made a decision to begin implementing “The Shift,” a commonly used strategy in baseball, where the pitching team literally shifts all of its defensive players to the side of the field where an opposing batter is known to most frequently hit the ball. See, up ‘til then, the Braves had eschewed the shift, using it less than any other team in the game.
But after the decision was made to employ the tactic, the Braves started winning. Then disaster struck. Just before the All-Star break, Atlanta lost star outfielder Ronald Acuna, Jr. to a season ending injury. Against the odds, the Braves stuck with the shift and kept winning … all the way to the NLCS.
Then, Saturday, in the fourth inning of Game 6, LA’s Cody Bellinger slapped a single the other way to beat Atlanta’s shift and tie the game at 1 apiece and causing the team to again question whether to stick with the plan.
But stick with it they did, ultimately prevailing by shutting down 9 straight Dodger hitters in the last three innings. Along the way, the Atlanta plan didn’t always look like the right one. But they proved yet again that winning is found by those with the discipline to make plans then stick with them.
And that’s the point for the week.
Had the Atlanta Braves decided to bail on the shift at any point after May, there is little doubt that any other team but them would be playing in the World Series today. The Braves committed to their plan and stuck with it, even when doing so seemed not the best course of action. That’s because the Braves understand a fundamental truth of life – one that applies to efforts in business, at home, in sport and in our communities: not every day is going to be a good one.
Life is going to be chock full of setbacks. Teams often take a step back for every two or three they take forward. It’s just the way it is. It is, though, the teams that have the wherewithal to tread on through, staying the course, that win most often. This occurs partly because they waste less time and resources moving to and fro, but mostly because they build trust which is the fuel that powers all winning organizations.
By picking a plan and sticking with it, those who lead these teams likewise establish a degree of predictability and consistency from which trust may flourish. See, workers have little appreciation for, and even less trust in, scattershot management, flavor of the day strategies or here today, gone tomorrow initiatives. Most serious people want to work for serious people; individuals with the ability to maintain a consistent thought and the discipline to stick with things even when the going gets tough.
One need not be a baseball fan to grasp the significance of what occurred in Atlanta or in any organization that wins by choosing a plan then sticking with it. While it seems magical, it’s truly far from it. It’s moreover the result of a simple choice to keep on keeping on, come what may, firm in the belief that one’s plan is the right one, sticking to it until the champagne corks start to fly.
So, pick a plan. Then stick with it.
To pre-order Phillip’s new book, please follow this LINK.