Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stretching to Third

"Where's the only place your safe in baseball?" I asked.

"On the base," the teenager answered.

"Right! Venture a few inches or a few feet from the base and you've gotten the attention of the opposing team. It becomes risky," I observed. We'd been talking about faith and the comparison between God's word that can keep us safe rather than being a hindrance. If you're not aware of the rules, you might just stroll leisurely down the base path, only to be put out by light tag or knocked down by a vicious, quick slap of the mitt and ball. But then I started thinking about the fallacy of staying on base all the time.

In life and business, events create changes. If we're not ready for them, we're left standing on base. We end up losing instead of making it to the second base when an opportunity, like a base hit, occurs. Our competitors get there first and put us out of the market. We need to be a few feet off the base, with a jump start to the next base. If we make the jump at the pitch or the swing, when we think the opportunity might be there for us to advance, we can get to second base just as the market opens up. If it's a clean hit, we can stretch our run to third base and really get the competition sweating bullets, worried you'll score the winning run and send them home.

Another reason for not playing it safe all the time is that you can tempt the competition to focus too much on you. They play for the quick out, pulling the baseman to the bag, leaving the field undefended. If they try to get you, they might make a mistake with an overthrow, leaving you to steal market share with a little hustle and a smile.

It's not called risky because it's a sure-thing. You can jump with the pitch, and run smack-dab into a double play when the batter pops up an easy catch. Your competition can take the easy contract and clobber you when you over-reached on a service guarantee.

But isn't it better to play hard? Play to win than just playing it safe? If you lose without taking any risk, just standing on base, no one will remember. If you were bold, they might chastise you for some foolish attempts but they'll admire your courage. I'd rather have a chance at a win, than not having a chance to stretch a hit into a two-bagger.

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