In today’s episode, I share how a catchphrase has had a significant impact on my business, helping me land a book deal. Stay tuned…
Hey there, you’re listening to They Don’t Teach This in Business School, a podcast about lessons learned on the business owner journey that only experience can teach. I’m Julie Bee, and I’m really glad you’re here today with me.
On today’s episode, I’m going to share a bit about a phrase that has shown up a lot this year for my team and for me. Coming into this year in business, I knew it was going to be a year of change, a year of transition. I had several big leaps to take. Several big risks. One day, I said to my team, “We’re going to swing for the fences. We’re going to swing away.”
This is a sports reference – a baseball or softball phrase. Swing for the fences means you’re trying to hit the ball over the fence for a home run. Swing away means that you are going to swing you bat at any pitch that’s in, or close to being in, your strike zone. You aren’t going to strike out without at least trying to hit the ball.
For me, in business, it means that we’re going to take some big swings – some will be home runs, sometimes we’ll strike out – but we’re going to go big, or go home. This has become such a catch phrase for us that when I had new headshots done this year, the photographer and I incorporated a baseball bat in many of them.
Let me share two examples from this year – one where I struck out swinging, and one where I hit a bases-loaded, bottom of the 9th inning, home run.
Earlier this year, I submitted myself for a TEDx talk. It was a great application, but I struck out that time. I took the swing, but I wasn’t selected. In hindsight, though, taking that swing for a homerun was the important part. I would not have done that last year. I didn’t have the confidence or the passion that I have today. The fact that I submitted the talk was a huge swing, and a sign of major growth. It was disappointing to not be chosen, but my team and I were still very proud of the effort, and we were still in the game.
Fast forward several months, and I was wrapping up the 2nd draft of my book, The Business Owner’s Guide to Burnout. I was overwhelmed by all of the options for publishing, and I just wanted a traditional publisher. I had been lead to believe that I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, traditionally publish my first book, so I had never taken that swing. But in my gut I knew traditional publishing was right for me – even for my first book.
So one day I went for it. I found a publisher I thought was a good fit, and submitted my book proposal to them. One month from that day of submission, I signed the final deal and had a traditionally-published book contract on my first book. I swung for the fences – and I hit a home run.
If you’ve followed along this year, you know I spent some time redefining my core values. One of my redefined personal core values is courage. At work, one of our core values is confidence. Swinging for the fences takes courage and confidence. It takes courage to take a shot, knowing the answer may be no, that you might fail, or that you might not reach your goal. I’ve spent a lot of time not taking those shots, but this year has been different. I’m looking for those opportunities and I’m going for it.
The really cool thing is that I’ve seen this confidence show up in my team. It’s become kind of a catch phrase at work, even extending to some of our key vendors. I’ve seen them swing away this year – to have the courage and confidence to take their shots. Some of the have hit home runs, some of them have struck out – but they’re still swinging for the fences.
There is, of course, a balance of risk. Just like a baseball player wouldn’t swing their bat at a pitch that’s clearly outside of the strike zone, or a pitch that is going to hit them, I’m not going to swing at a business idea that is clearly a bad decision. But those pitches that I’m not quite sure I can hit, but I could hit? I’m swinging for the fences. Take the shots, swing the bat, go for gold. The worst case scenario is that you learn a lesson.
I know when I swing away, I might strike out. But I’d rather strike out swinging than to strike out without trying. I’m Julie Bee, and They Don’t Teach THIS in Business School