What Baseball Can Teach Us at Work

As both therapists and attorney we have spoken with hundreds of clients over the years. From those experiences we have learned that people often hold themselves to unrealistic and detrimental standards. We encourage them to consider the lessons of baseball, beginning with performance. Most people expect themselves to hit home runs daily. Worse yet, many managers expect the same thing of their employees. Is that realistic?

A major league baseball average is 300, which means that out of ten times at bat, you miss connecting with the ball seven times. That’s right. The player gets paid a hefty sum and only connects with the ball three times out of ten—what is considered a solid major league batting average.

There is an important life lesson here. Sometimes we strike out. Sometimes we hit a single or double and sometimes we are lucky and hit a home run. It is our season average that counts. Judging yourself too harshly or unrealistically will actually work against your performance.

Managers take note. Think of performance in terms of seasons with the fiscal year representing a season. Take the long view and use feed forward conversations in which you help employees set future goals that are realistic and attainable. Remind them to remind themselves that some days they will hit it out of the park and some days they will strike out. What’s important is to define success by your season average.

You can always benefit from working with a coach. Think about it: players get paid millions of dollars per baseball season. They have been playing the game for many years by the time they make the big leagues. Nevertheless, they still go to spring training, they still listen to the advice of a batting coach or a coach on the first base line. Why? To gain added perspective. Every job can be improved by considering an additional perspective. It doesn’t matter your level of expertise or experience. Most of us would benefit from a new training, a work consultation, some form of added perspective. We frequently make the cognitive mistake of thinking we should know it all in our job ; however, the truth is that there is usually much to gain by considering a new perspective at work.

Do you value team work? Get to know your team members at work. It is important to learn how they best receive information and what their strengths are. Play to their strengths and don’t forget that in this modern day of technology in person contact goes a long way to building lasting relationships. You might even want to go to a baseball game together.


Georgi DiStefano is an Employee Assistance Professional (EAP) and licensed therapist. She is a workplace conflict resolution trainer and has an extensive background in addiction treatment.

Bill Eddy is an LCSW, family lawyer and mediator, and the President of the High Conflict Institute. He regularly provides training to mediators, lawyers, counselors and others regarding high-conflict personalities.

Get more tips in It’s All Your Fault at Work: Managing Narcissists and Other High-Conflict People (Unhooked Books, 2015), Bronze winner, Human Resource category, 2015 Axiom Business Book Award.