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A Reminder About Home Runs

Business literature is in love with sports and military metaphors.

Perhaps the most common one (in America, at least) is “home run.” Used as a breakaway hit, as in “that’s a home run.”

As service providers, we strive to hit that home run offer. That perfect combination between problems we solve, services we deliver, who we serve, and what we charge.

But we should remember that home run, taken literally, is a first-rate metaphor for business.

Every new iteration of our offering is an at-bat: an attempt to hit another home run. So the question is, how many attempts should it take to hit a home run? Obviously, we want to increase the likelihood and frequency of hitting a home run, but the numbers tell the story.

In 2017, the Texas Rangers hit a home run every 23 at-bats, and they led the league in this category. The median was about 26, and the worst team hit a home run every 43 at-bats.

Each at-bat is a learning opportunity, disguised as a failure. Perhaps we start by hitting a home run every 43 at-bats, and eventually hit one every 23. This is the process we must go through.

Where the metaphor completely falls apart is that you don’t need to hit many home runs in business. While a professional baseball player sees hundreds of at-bats in a single season, you only need a few home runs to create an exceptional career.

Keep swinging.