In The Science of Hitting, Ted Williams wrote about the importance of keeping his players alert.
The dugout, for example, has always been a place in baseball where guys tended to doze. The very fact they’re not playing works against them, so I try to keep them in the game. “What the hell pitch was that? What’s the count?”
I’d see a guy check the scoreboard. “What you looking there for? You oughta know without looking. Get in the game.”
You’ve got to keep sharp on the bench, because you’re liable to be in there anytime.
I saw this play out last month, after a friend resigned from her job. It was an unexpected move, even for her, but one she had to make. The next day she found herself without a job, without a resume in place, without any idea of how to move forward.
She reminded me of the artists I’ve met, who have a creation, a project — a something — in need of marketing, but never seem prepared. In her case, she had knowledge/expertise to market to another company, but she didn’t have anything ready to go when she absolutely needed it.
She didn’t recognize there was a bench in her life — and because she didn’t recognize the bench, she didn’t focus on the game playing out around her.
In baseball there’s a location shift, from a player being on the field to a player being on the bench in the dugout.
For an artist, that occurs when she leaves her studio or when he steps away from his desk. At that point, they are on the bench. If they are eating, they are on the bench. If they are napping, they are on the bench. If they are watching TV or reading or catching a film, they are on the bench. While the bench is a place to rest, it isn’t a place to atrophy.
What does this mean for pitching?
While it might feel like your life revolves around creating, it doesn’t. You have benches in your life and you’ve got to use them to pay attention to what is/isn’t working in the games being played around you.
Pay attention to where other authors are popping up. Radio? TV? Print? Online?
Pay attention to what is being discussed — and if that interview or article gets picked up by other outlets. If yes, which ones?
Most important: Pay attention to the other players and network. We’ve spoken about the importance of the direct-connections for years, which includes maintaining a database, yet I continue to meet authors who don’t even have their friends’ addresses entered into a Word file.
The artists and entrepreneurs and baseball players who succeed are the ones who recognize the bench and use it as a time to reflect on the game. They’ve got their book and their marketing plan and everything else ready to roll — AND, they have an understanding of the business and the rules.
It’s similar to a cook being able to plate every element of a course at one time.
The cook has a plan that enables him to have everything ready to go. He has that plan because he’s used his bench to study, to practice, to pay attention to the game around him.
Use your bench to get in the game — and to stay in the game.