On September 23, 1908, in a baseball game versus the Chicago Cubs, Fred Merkle, a 19-year old rookie for the New York Giants was on first base and Moose McCormick was on third.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and with the score tied 1–1, Al Bridwell lined the ball into center field to drive in McCormick from third, sealing a 2–1 Giants victory. But wait — as celebrating Giants fans poured onto the field, Merkle, running from first, never touched second base. He turned back to celebrate after watching McCormick score the winning run. Noticing this, a Cubs infielder retrieved the ball, tagged second base and appealed to the umpire, who called Merkle out. This nullified McCormick’s run and robbed the Giants of the win — in what has been referred to as “the most controversial game in baseball history.”
A couple weeks later, the Giants and Cubs would finish the regular season tied for first place in the National League. Through a one-game playoff the Cubs ended up eliminating the Giants. Had the Giants won that controversial game on September 23, they could have eventually been the 1908 World Series champs instead of the Cubs (who, incidentally, would not win it all again for another 108 years, in 2016).
Like in baseball, our lives and our businesses have home plates, and first, second, and third bases.
First base could be compared to our intellectual assets, such as wisdom, our formal education, reputation, traditions, alliances, skills, etc. I often say wisdom is the product of knowledge multiplied by experiences — and not just the good ones! We all know we often learn more from our setbacks and challenges than from our smooth-sailing times. It’s important to learn from when things are difficult at home and at work and distill those experiences into wisdom. Hitting a single is that intellect and wisdom.
Second base would be our financial assets, comprised of all of our material possessions — the “things” of life. These things could include our personal and workplace assets, properties, investments, etc. When we hit a double, we are on the right path to doing well financially. We are running in the black.
Third base would consist of our civic or social assets that we contribute back to society. Triples don’t happen every day. They are especially meaningful because we’ve had to leave our comfort zone — our personal “friendly confines” — to get outside ourselves and serve others. When we give a part of our time and resources to causes greater than our own, we have hit a triple.
Our most important (home plate) possessions are our foundational assets. These consist of our family, heritage, values, health, talents, spirituality, future, etc. As we embrace these prized possessions we cross home plate, including when we hit the rare home runs in life experiences.
To make sure all our metaphorical hits will count in life — singles, doubles, triples and home runs — we need to remember to touch all of the bases. Don’t stop with just the intellectual and financial bases. Don’t even stop on third after we hit a triple by paying it forward — contributing our means to others. Complete the round trip back to our foundational home plate (our family, health, values, etc.) to make it all count. That’s where we receive the greatest enjoyment.
And what if you blow a game from time to time by missing a base? Get the uniform back on and play another day. Set goals now and track your progress to make this a winning end of the season — your own version of October baseball. Whether in your professional or personal world, true success comes from a determined effort toward touching all four bases, one base at a time.
In the business world, for example, what if your company only focused on customer service and ignored employee relations? You could easily end up with a disgruntled workforce, which in turn could impact the entire business. The bases analogy applies at home, as well. What if you were to overemphasize your child’s achievements while neglecting their emotional needs? This, of course, could lead to a breakdown in your relationship.
As you progress toward the end of this “season” or in the coming year, it might be helpful to compare your workplace or your life to the game of baseball, where it’s important to touch all the bases with each single, double, triple or home run. You just might beat your own record and win the pennant. Regardless, you can allow your journey through the ballpark of life to become your own national pastime.
Want to know more about how to prepare your grandchildren and children to live an abundant life? Click here for my quick-start kit to “Family and Business Retreats with a Purpose.”
Originally published at medium.com