With baseball Spring Training set to begin later this week, I thought it timely to focus your attention on the habits of the most consistent and productive batter in the history of the game.
For readers who aren’t baseball fans, Albert Pujols is a Dominican-American professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball. He previously played 11 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he was a three-time National League Most Valuable Player and nine-time All-Star.
When I say he’s the most consistent, this is what he did in each of his first 10 years as a hitter in the Major Leagues:
Had a batting average of at least .300
Hit at least 30 home runs
Knocked in more than 100 runs.
The only thing that kept that streak from being 12 years is just missing by a hair in his 11th season, when he batted .299 and drove in 99 runs. He returned to his historic production in his 12th season.
No one else in the 146-year history of professional baseball has ever done that in his first ten seasons. Not Hall of Famers and legends such as Babe Ruth, or Joe DiMaggio, or Ted Williams. Albert Pujols stands alone as the pinnacle of such consistent excellence. He’s in a club of one.
The source of consistency
So, how does he perform at such an unheard-of level, so absolutely consistently? In a word, he “practices.” Every day, no matter what.
Diligently, with serious discipline. When he’s tired, he practices. When he doesn’t feel like it, he practices. When he’s going great, he practices. When he’s in a slump, he practices. Every day, every month, year round, throughout his 18-year career. He doesn’t take days off just because, or because he’s in the middle of an important four-game series against his main rival. Or because he’s feeling a little sore or tired.
Get the picture?
“But, I practice, too”
Yes, you practice law. But, you don’t practice business development. Sure, you go to some networking events, you make some follow-up sales calls. You may even call a dormant client occasionally, hoping to bring her back to life.
That’s not practice. For you, that’s “game day.” That’s why your results are disappointing. Here’s Albert Pujols’ definition of practice: 20,000 practice swings per year.
Let’s compare that with actual games. Over the course of a full season, your (statistically) average hitter will see four pitches during each of his roughly 600 at-bats. Let’s say he swings at half of those. That’s 1,200 competitive swings per year. That means Albert Pujols takes 16 times as many practice swings as competitive swings.
Limited market encounters
Over the course of 20-odd years, I trained and coached about 7000 lawyers. I’d say that the most committed of them averaged about three encounters with their markets per week, e.g., networking events, sales calls, etc. That’s 150 “competitive swings” per year.
How many of you practice your business development skills 2250 times per year (Pujols' 16:1 practice:competition ratio)? How many practice at all?
I realize that, unlike Albert Pujols, your primary, full-time job is performing legal work, not marketing or selling. OK, so your practice:competition “swing ratio” isn’t going to be his 16:1. But it can’t be 0:4, either. To get the financial security, professional challenge and work/life balance you say you want, find a way to get in some practice time. You can’t practice in the real world because the stakes are real, so you’ll have to do it in a virtual world. RainmakerVT offers you the equivalent of a batting cage. Each of the simulations offer you a “Practice Mode” to refresh and sharpen your skills in 5-10 minutes.