In 1998, Mark McGwire hit more home-runs than any other player in MLB history. I vividly remember watching the games to see if he would break Hank Aaron’s record and I’m not even a baseball fan. At the time, I remember becoming personally moved by the chase for the home-run record. It changed the way that I thought about several things in my life and it had nothing to do with home-runs but rather strikeouts. McGwire lead the league in home-runs that year but he was also near the top of the leader board for strikeouts. He struck out 2.2 times more than he hit home-runs. In theory, the strikeouts are failure but in reality they are three more pieces of data.
From the outside, the strikeout seems ugly and unwanted. I’ve never heard anyone say “that’s the best strikeout I’ve ever had!” The beauty of the strikeout happens inside. It’s the internal process of finding the next home-run from the mistakes made in the strikeout. Personally I always attributed this to dating. The strikeout/rejection was originally paralyzing and kept me from stepping up to the plate. It was after McGwire’s record breaking season that I started to embrace the beauty of the strikeout.
Many of us go through life hoping that things will be easy. We want life to pitch us as many “meatballs” as possible, so that we can get on base. The problem with this hope is that it guarantees us a life in little league where you hit off a tee or a lobbed pitch from a coach. If you want to play life at a higher level, you need to be willing to take some strikeouts and get back up to the plate to chance it again. If they are considered data and not a death sentence for your self-esteem, then strikeouts are an amazing tool. The key is that something must be learned from each one.
So become a strikeout analyst. Don’t shy away from the opportunity that your failures give you. Most failure is not fatal and is only negative if we do not see the lesson. The beauty of the strikeout is expressed in that next home-run. So take a swing and use your mistakes as ingredients for your next success.