Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Need to Adjust

One of the fun debates to have is over who was the best hitter of all time in baseball. One reason it is fun - at least to me - is that a person can make a good argument for a number of players. But no matter who deserves that accolade, without question one player who deserves strong consideration is Ted Williams. His lifetime batting average was over .340, he hit over 500 home runs in his career, and he remains the last player to average over .400 in one season. Williams did all this despite the fact over four years of his prime playing years were lost when he was drafted into the military for both World War 11 and the Korean conflict.

Williams was such a strong hitter that other teams initiated what came to be called "the Williams shift" to make it harder for him to get a hit. A left-handed batter, Williams had difficulty hitting to the opposite field. Consequently, almost all of his focus was hitting the ball hard and invariably to the right side of the field. The shift constituted players shifting over to that side of the field because they knew Williams was not going to try and hit the ball anywhere else. As good as he was, Williams was stubborn. As a matter of pride, he refused to adjust to this changing circumstance. Later, looking back on his career, Williams estimated his failure to adjust took 20 points off his lifetime batting average.

One of the key elements to effective communication is being able to do what Williams did not. As great as he was, Williams could have been greater had he been able or willing to adjust. Circumstances for all of us change almost on a daily basis. We have to talk loud or soft. The person we are with is distracted so we have to connect in a way that regains their attention. What we trying to say is not understandable so we have to figure out a way to re-state our message. Examples of how and why we need to adjust in our communication efforts abound. Yes, Williams did well. But think how much better he could have been. What about us as communicators?

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