Great Actors can attribute much of their success to two things: Energy and Focus.
With the first championship in 30 years on the line, there were distractions everywhere. If all the energy of hype, fan and media interaction wasn’t enough, there was a spectator many found perhaps more compelling than the World Series itself—the Fur Hat Lady. This reported super fan found her way into popularity by simply sitting in her front row spot at the Royal’s home stadium and appearing in camera shots just over batters’ shoulders.
How do you, as a player in perhaps the biggest game on earth keep your attention where it should be when fans acting “however” garner so much attention?
Keep their focus they did, both Royals and Mets as they delivered a captivating battle for the world baseball crown. The up and down energy here in Kansas City meant pins-and-needles time.
As for focus, arguably the key success factor in any performance, it presented itself in amazing examples from both teams. If you watched or are reviewing highlights after the event, you may have your favorite “focus factor”. Some include:
- Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez talking about helping his pitchers get beyond the pressure. “Just focus on my glove,” he said when asked how he helped a struggling pitcher.
- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer’s eyes locked on the New York Mets third baseman David Wright, who on a ninth inning chopper, looked Hosmer down to hold him off third base, only to have Hosmer tie the game after Wright threw to first. “I have no idea what I was doing,” Hosmer said on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, “The first two steps I thought, this is a bad plan.” Then later, in humor, “It’s the way I drew it up, bad throw, slide in there, be a hero.”
- And for Mets star second baseman Daniel Murphy, focus apparently escaped him in a critical error in game 4. With plenty of energy, a grounder went under his glove as he charged it, causing the tying run to score and faithful Mets fans to cringe. “I think I had a little more time than I thought,” he said in a post-game interview.
Add to these the response of many pro athletes when asked again and again, “How do you take this victory/loss as you prepare for the next game?” The reply is all about when and where to focus. It usually goes something like “We’re taking it one game at a time, celebrating a win for a time/putting this loss behind us.” Their responses make sense since you’re only as good as your last performance.
Is it then, the overall focus on winning that brings victory? Or is it the singular focus on one thing at a time that collectively results in a win?
With a place in the World Series on the line, Royals speedster Lorenzo Cain drew a walk in the bottom of the eighth inning of ALCS Game 6 with the Toronto Blue Jays. Cain may have been thinking about breaking the 3-3 tie. Hosmer followed Cain with a single to the right field corner, and Cain took off. It wasn’t enough to get to second or third, not with a trip to the World Series at stake.
I don’t know what Lorenzo Cain thinks, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t count his strides or slow down to make sure he touches each base as he scores from first in 10.47 seconds at 20.7 miles per hour (thank you, Statcast). And that’s with a quick hold to check where Hosmer’s ball was hit.
So what was Cain thinking? What was his focus factor in his amazing jaunt? Score? Run fast?
A key focal point for Cain was Royals third base coach Mike Jirschele who
previously noticed (focused on!) how Mets right fielder Jose Bautista would usually throw to second base on a drive to his territory. Kansas City Star writer Lee Judge talked about Jirschele’s focus:
“So the good guy [Jirschele] has to pay attention to what’s going on; it’s how he makes his living — attention to detail. And the good guy notices that the bad guy [Bautista] sometimes throws to the wrong base and puts that in his data bank. If the right occasion arises, the good guy can use that flaw in the bad guy’s game.”
Part of this focus-in-action is what we notice, what we pay attention to that allows us to do our job most effectively. And it’s relentless practice—running the bases over and over again–so when a championship is in the air we are ready to execute and not have to think about every single step.
For you in business, perhaps it’s much more complex. All seems so simple, rather, simplified when it comes to sports where the goal is clear, there’s a score or not, a victory or loss. There’s set time, strict rules and watchful umps making sure everything’s on track. And a pesky multi-camera replay system to double-check everything.
Studying those with relentless energy and focus, like the admirable folks in the Royals and Mets organizations can provide a lens through which we can see our situations with new perspective. We can even imitate them to get a positive result! These kinds may be sitting next to you, may be a customer, or may be you though not yet realized. Time will tell, but with the possibility of victory on your horizon, be ready for what can emerge.
Your stage. Your performance. And with energy and focus, you’re on!
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