What do a knuckleballer and an entrepreneur have in common?


It turns out, this is not a trick question.

I had the good fortune of hearing legendary Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey speak recently at a fundraising event. He was articulate, inspiring, thought-provoking and engaging. A great storyteller. I found that many of his learnings from his life experiences transcended the world of baseball, and even sports in general.

I was so inspired by his talk that I wanted to share some of the most interesting points and how I believe they can be applied to life as an entrepreneur.

 “As a baseball player, you need bulletproof confidence and a short term memory.
In many ways, the same holds true for an entrepreneur. To be successful in your own business, you need the confidence to pick yourself up after inevitable failures and setbacks. And, while you don’t want to completely forget about these, having a short term memory—or being present and future-minded—prevents your setbacks from clouding your confidence to continue in pursuit of your vision.

“When we’re the visiting team, and our opponents’ fans are cheering loudly to shake our focus, I pretend they’re cheering for me, not against me. It works.”
Whether it’s a competitor, or another naysayer, there will always be people who will try to distract you or diminish your focus. Keep your eye on your goals and turn up the volume on those who are in your corner, cheering for you. Having the self-confidence to listen to your ‘opponents’ without allowing their words or actions shake you, is a valuable skill in the world of entrepreneurship. This is especially true in the age of social media where everyone has an opinion and these opinions are accessible for anyone to see.

“My relationship with the knuckleball went from ‘how do I survive with it’ transcending to ‘mastery of it,’ and then on to ‘artistry.’”
Entrepreneurship is a journey that takes time and patience. At first, it is about building the foundation to enable your business to run smoothly. That’s what R.A. is talking about when he says “survive with it.” When I look back to when I first started Felicity about five years ago, I was building the proverbial plane as I was flying it. While this building process is ongoing, I am proud (and relieved) to say that we have transcended “survival” mode and much of our operations now fall into the “mastery” and “artistry” categories.

“The hardest thing to do as a knuckleball pitcher is to recognize when your technique is off and to figure out what to do to bring it back again.”
As a business owner, it’s guaranteed that every “pitch” won’t be a good one. Sometimes you have bad days, or bad weeks. While I can tell immediately when we have hit a rough patch, navigating our way out of that is a challenge. It’s for this reason that I’m most grateful, as I’m sure R.A. is, to have a seasoned and solutions-oriented team, as well as individuals I’d consider akin to coaches, helping me along the way.

Sports often prove to be a great analogy for life, and I was pleased to find so many practical business insights from a pitcher and sports team I so greatly admire. As we prepare for the season ahead, I wish R.A. and his team lots of success!

Go Jays go!

Posted on: February 2nd, 2016 by

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