Spaghetti Stains, Dog Bites & A Donut That Slowed Me Down

Before you read today’s post, make sure you read what I wrote yesterday. It will allow the following story to make much more sense, trust me.

A couple of years ago, I was offered a freelance job that involved writing more than 10,000 words about a variety of topics ranging from carpet cleaning to personal injury lawyers. The job required me to finish 21 articles in 5 days. And it paid terribly.

I took it.

Why would I do something so dumb, you ask? I knew it would be tough and not a sound financial decision, but I looked at it as a challenge. I figured that if I could write so many words about things I know noting about, writing posts for my own blog would be a breeze.

I was wrong.

After feverishly researching attorneys and carpet companies, I completed the job with just a few hours to spare. I sent in the work and was rewarded with a paycheck that would barely cover the cost of my dinner.

When I took the job, I had assumed that by doing so much writing in such a short time, I would morph into a writing champion. I envisioned Mr. Pulitzer stopping by my house to tell me he heard about what I did and he would like to name an award after me. I figured knocking out 2,000 words a day, on topics I was not familiar with, would crush any future writers block that came my way.

I was way off.

Upon finishing, I was exhausted, unhappy and in no mood to write. Not only did I feel nothing like a writing champion, I felt more like a writing curmudgeon. After completing 10,845 words, the last thing I wanted to do was write another sentence.

And to make matters worse, I doubt that I improved as a writer. I spent most of a week writing about how to remove a spaghetti stain and why you should hire a lawyer if you are bitten by a dog; neither topic that will ever come up in my children’s books or this blog. Sure I wrote a ton of words, but they weren’t useful building blocks on my path to become a more experienced writer.

I practiced with a donut and all it did was slow me down.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about challenging ourselves as writers. Stepping out of our comfort zone will help us improve in may ways. But when we do, we should try to make sure our effort, as professor DeRenne said, mimics what we will do in the game.

Is It Helping Or Slowing You Down?

Donuts can slow us down.

You may not think that is breaking news, but I am not talking about the glazed kind. I’m talking about the baseball kind.

If you have ever been to a baseball game, you have probably seen them. They are circular weights found in the on-deck circle. A batter hangs the weight around the barrel of his bat and much like how Krispy Kreme adds a few lbs to our midsection, the baseball donut adds weight to the bat.

The idea is that warming up with the weighted bat will allow a hitter to increase his bat speed when he removes the donut and faces the pitcher.

Turns out, those weights may be having the opposite effect. According to one study, increasing the weight of one’s bat by 10-13% will decrease one’s swing speed by 3-5 miles per hour.

This happens for two reasons:

  1. It does not accurately simulate what the batter will do in the real game.
  2. It deprives the hitter of an explosive burst of energy.

Coop DeRenne, the physical-education professor at the University of Hawaii responsible for the study, says that rather than use the donut,

the batter should mimic in his warm-up what he will do in the game—the same weight, the same motion.”

What are the donuts in our lives that we thought would speed us up? Are they helping or hurting? Maybe it is time to take a look and see if what we think is going to improve our work is really just zapping our energy.

Check back in tomorrow and I will share a story of how a donut slowed me down as a writer.

Care Enough To Get Hit

One person gets hit more than anyone and makes $130 million. Another person quit because he didn’t like getting hit. Who made the right decision? What if I told you they both did…

Get Hit

If you have ever played baseball you know that getting hit by a pitch is not a fun thing. It can lead to bumps, bruises and broken bones.

My older brother Matt learned quickly into his Little League baseball career that he did not like getting hit by the ball.  And who can blame him.  After all, as a batter your job is to hit the baseball, not the other way around.

After taking a few pitches into the gut, Matt decided that he didn’t love baseball enough to get hit.

So he stopped playing.

Matt was a great athlete and had the skills to be a very good baseball player, but the fear of getting hit by the ball limited his potential.

Some may hear that story and think that quitting was a wrong decision. They may think that he should have stuck with baseball long enough to conquer his fears.

But quitting baseball just might have been the best decision Matt could have made for his athletic career.

Matt stopped playing baseball and devoted his time to track and football where he thrived and became an All-State performer.

The difference between Matt’s baseball career and his career in track and football is that he cared enough about track and football to fight through the hits.

Because of this, he excelled.

Had he stayed in baseball for the sole reason that you shouldn’t quit something, he would have toiled in a sport he didn’t care about and he never would have reached his potential in track and football.

Don’t misunderstand me to think that I am saying you should quit everything that gets tough. What I am saying is that Matt didn’t love baseball enough to get hit.

But Shin-Shoo Choo does.

In 2013, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shin-Shoo Choo led Major League Baseball by being hit by a pitch 26 times.

Like Matt, I would bet that Choo was also hit by the ball numerous times as a child while playing little league.

He probably didn’t like getting hit anymore than Matt did. But he certainly liked baseball enough to stick with it and continue to get hit.

Choo also slammed over 20 home runs in 2013 and was rewarded with a seven year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers.

Choo obviously loves baseball enough to get hit more than anyone. And he has been rewarded for it.

In life we are all going to get hit. Whether it is a bad book review, a poor performance evaluation or fastball that gets a little too far inside, we all get bumps (in the road), bruises (egos) and broken bones (or spirits).

What is important, is finding out what you care about enough to get hit. Once you do this, you will have a road map guiding you to where you will excel.

You still may never like taking the hits, but when you love what you are doing, the hits don’t feel nearly as painful. This is what Shin-Shoo Choo has realized ($130 million probably also helps).

On the flip side, if you do not care enough to get hit, it is better to take Matt’s approach and do something else with your talents. Doing this will bring out the best in your talents and abilities.

Whether it is life or baseball, you are going to get hit. A lot. In order to be successful you must determine what you care enough about to take those hits and keep going (and going and going).