“Jeremy is about to realize that the ball went 60 feet over the fence.  He hit a home run and he didn’t even realize it.”

In the movie Moneyball, Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A’s is trying to field a competitive baseball team for 2002.  The problem is that he has a payroll of less than $40M when other teams, like their nemesis the NY Yankees, have a team payroll of over $125M.  

That feels familiar, right?  

Ever felt like you were competing against others with a much bigger checkbook?  I can point to numerous examples throughout my business career, but the most visceral is probably competing against all those rich boys in college…but that’s a story for another time.

Not only are teams like the Yankees operating with over three times the payroll, they keep buying up all the talented players that Beane uncovers and develops at prices that they can no longer match.  He considers his team to be “organ donors for the rich".

Billy hires an Ivy league educated numbers whiz named Peter Brand, and they find a way to win despite this disparity.  Looking beyond conventional baseball wisdom, they create the same productivity the wealthier teams are finding with their superstars, but in the aggregate with much cheaper players.  

In 2002, the Oakland A’s, operating under this numbers driven experiment, tie for the most wins (103) with, you guessed it, the NY Yankees.  During that incredible season they also set the American League record for consecutive wins with 20.  While they came one game short in the playoffs of making the World Series, it was a wildly successful season, by any measure.

But there is the same problem with Billy Beane that we find with virtually every owner or senior leader: he can’t enjoy the success he has found.  Billy says that if you don’t win the last game of the season, you lost…period.  Despite rewriting the record books, winning the most games with 1/3 the payroll, and basically changing the way baseball teams are constructed, he still feels like a failure.

We see this all the time.

Probably my favorite scene in this incredible movie is one near the end.  Peter Brand shows Billy a video of a minor league player who is overweight and rarely makes it past first base on a hit.  In this instance, he hits it hard and decides to round first and try for second.  But he trips and has to crawl his way back to first base…and everybody is laughing at him.  But after a few moments he understands why they are really laughing. 

He hit a home run and didn’t even realize it.

Business is hard and can be really discouraging at times.  One of the most crucial things we do for our clients (my favorite thing, really) is to remind them of all those home runs they are hitting.

They don’t seem to be able to see.

They are almost blinded to them.

They disproportionately weigh them against the setbacks.

And as a result, their teams never feel celebrated.

Despite the fact that things are hard, there is a lot of glory as well.  The intentional leaders we work with are changing their companies, changing the lives of people, and changing the part of the world they have been given to lead.  There is a lot that still needs to be worked on and changed, but there is a lot to celebrate as well.

Celebrating the homers you are hitting provides the necessary fuel you need for you and your teams to overcome all the rest.

  • How aware are you of the things that are going well?
  • Do you have anyone who is helping point out and remind you of those things?
  • How often is your team running on empty given that your inability to celebrate your successes is depleting their source of fuel?