I have a great appreciation for professional baseball players, especially the ones who perform consistently over time at the highest level of competition. Albert Pujols, for instance, hit .313 or better in each of his first 10 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, with at least 32 home runs and nofewer than 103 RBI. And only twice did he play fewer than 154 regular-season games. He might not play for my Rockies, but it’s hard not to admire his consistency and his dedication to excellence.
Like all batters, however, Pujols goes through occasional slumps. In fact, he got off to a horrendous start in 2011. In the 29th game of the season, Pujols went 0-for-5, and his batting average was a very un-Albert-like .252. Do you think Tony La Russa, the Cardinals manager, was concerned? “He’ll be fine because he’s smart and tough-minded,” La Russa told reporters. “He won’t allow himself to be less than his best.” La Russa knew Pujols had what it takes to deal with grueling nature of a 162-game season. He can’t avoid slumps, but he knows how to get through them. In other words, there are things Pujols does regardless of whether times are good, bad, or in-between — and those are the things that make him great.
My new book — Up, Down, or Sideways — explores the methods and mindsets that lead to that type of consistent success. Like Pujols, we can’t avoid life’s slumps. But there are things that help us mitigate the downturns, maximize the upturns, and create predictable and persistent success regardless of circumstances. So much of life is outside our control. Pujols, for instance, can’t control the weather; sometimes he has to play when it’s raining or cold. He can’t control the umpires; sometimes they call a pitch a strike when he thinks it was a ball. And he can’t control whether a pitcher walks him on purpose or throws an inside curveball or a fastball right over the plate. Likewise, we can’t control things like the economy or the moods swings of our boss or the strategic planning decisions of our customers and clients. But there are methods and mindsets we can embrace regardless of anything the out-of-our-control world throws our way.
I was inspired to tackle this book project during one of the most challenging periods in my life. The economy was in a deep recession, meaning, through no fault of my own, my business and my personal investments were suffering. And that same year, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Yet I felt incredibly blessed. I knew things could have been worse — much worse. I wondered: What methods and mindsets had I practiced when times were Up or Sideways that were paying dividends now that times were Down? What should I do or keep doing now that times were Down? And what did other successful people do consistently that I could learn from? Like a professional baseball season, our personal and professional success is measured over the long course of time. There will be slumps. But they don’t have to define us. We’re defined by how we think and act consistently, because those are the things that shape our results.
If you read Up, Down, or Sideways, I think you’ll relate to the things I’ve identified. I’m going to blog about some of them over the next few months. And I hope you’ll add to the discussion with your own methods and mindsets that have served you when times were Up, Down, or Sideways. This blog is based on content in my latest book, Up, Down, Or Sideways. It is available wherever you buy great books. Click here to learn more about the book.
Posted on behalf of Mark Sanborn