The other night I was watching my Cleveland Indians play the Cincinnati Reds. It was a close game – tied at 1 for most of it. The Reds had a runner on base and one of their hitters was trying to bunt him over. He bunted the ball and it looked like it was going to be the perfect bunt, about a quarter of the way between home and third. But it was moving fast – it wasn’t one of those bunts that just magically dies in the grass. Our third baseman, Jack Hannahan, started running towards the ball because he knew he’d have to make an amazingly fast play, but at the last minute he pulled himself back. The ball went foul. Barely. His patience and restraint helped out the team, preventing a play that could have resulted in a wild throw or something else that would have been a big problem in such a close game.

In life, we’re a lot like the third baseman. We’re waiting for balls to be hit towards us at lightning speed and we are programmed to run towards it and take care of it as fast as possible. That way we can move on to the next thing, right?

But what if we pulled back a minute and waited to see if the problem would resolve itself? What if we analyzed the situation and said, “Hey, there’s a chance this one might not have to be dealt with right away or maybe even at all!”

Now of course there are some situations where waiting could cause a pretty serious problem. If someone is unconscious, you don’t want to wait to see if they’ll regain consciousness on their own, right?

But I’ll bet if you think about it you could probably come up with some situations where you ran towards the ball and played it before seeing if it might go foul. Maybe you jumped into solve a problem that really could have been solved by someone else. Maybe you started to do something that you could have easily delegated to another person. Maybe you got angry at a person before learning all of the facts.

How can you prevent yourself from that gut instinct to run towards the ball? To me, it seems like it would take a lot of time invested in reprogramming your brain. Our third baseman was clearly programmed to analyze the play and react very quickly based on the information he received, even if that “reaction” was a decision not to act. For awhile, you’ll need to catch yourself consciously running towards the ball. You’ll need to say, “Wait, is there a different way to react to this?” You’ll need to make yourself stop and think where you might have simple “done” before.

What is a recent situation where you may have played a ball that was on its way to foul territory? How do you think you could have changed your reaction for the better?

I’d love to hear from you.

Image Credit: via Creative Commons