“You hold back only to realize there is nothing keeping you back, except yourself” – Rachel Wolchin
One of my favorite books – subsequently turned in to a movie – is Moneyball. It is the story of Billy Beane (then the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team), and how he transformed baseball using a revolutionary approach to assessing, drafting, and ultimately fielding players based on a complex formula of statistics. The approach, called sabermetrics, had only hereto been used by a small following of fans for fantasy and similar tracking of player performance. Billy was the first Manager in professional baseball to embrace the approach and use it as a primary factor in his decision on which players he kept on his team and the order in which he had them bat. Today most professional baseball teams use this approach – and in many respects this is behind the recent success of the current world champion Houston Astros.
Back to Billy – his achievement is even more profound when you consider the circumstances. At the time, the Oakland Athletics were a second-tier professional market with an extremely limited budget to match. Most of the more successful franchises were spending 2 to 3 times more than the Athletics, allowing them to field the best talent in the league, and in return, consistently outperform other teams.
But Billy took a risk on a different approach. He hired a Yale economics graduate and quickly made him his “right hand”. And while his decisions were quickly criticized by his scouts and team manager, Billy convinces the team owners to stay the course. Over time the team’s performance improved dramatically, moving from the bottom in their league in to playoff contention, and ultimately falling one game short of a World Series appearance.
At the end of this movie is a scene in which Billy Beane and Peter Brand (his sabermetrics whiz kid) are speaking in the club house late at night. In this scene, Billy finds himself questioning his own approach, suggesting that nothing short of a championship is a success. Peter then asks he join him in the film room, and shows the following clip:
The scene is prophetic, as it shows one of the players Billy drafted in a minor league game hitting a home run, but tripping as he runs the bases and returning to first in fear he would be thrown out. “Jeremy hit a home run and didn’t’ even realize it.”, says Peter. The metaphor is clear to Billy – he can’t see his own success beyond his fear of failure.
How often in life and in business do we fall prey to the same mentality? We take risks only to pull back at the first sign of success. Or when we do succeed, we fail to embrace the moment, allowing ourselves to operate in a condition of denial or defeat, only to miss the chance to both celebrate and seize the next opportunity.
The only thing holding you back is you…time to realize your full potential!