Monday, April 11, 2016

The Mental Game

"Baseball is 90% mental.  The other half is physical." -Yogi Berra

I love Yogi Berra quotes, always worth a chuckle and yet always a bit profound.  Baseball is an incredibly mental game.  Heck, if you bat .300 for your career you'll probably be a first ballot hall of famer (and you would have failed 70% of the time at the plate)!  It is a game in which you have to constantly be observing, learning, and adapting.  You have to celebrate the small victories.

Entrepreneurship is similar.  It is a mental game.  There are many books, courses, and people out there who can teach you the fundamentals.  Only you can apply them and deal with the results.  You must constantly observe, learn, and adapt to get better.  And it is imperative to celebrate the small victories.

"You can observe a lot by watching."  -Yogi Berra

I am an eternal optimist trapped in a cynic's body so you can imagine donnybrook that happens daily in my head.

Last week I was fortunate enough to be 1 of 10 companies selected (out of 125 that applied) to participate in the Bunker Battle Pitch Contest.  We would each present for 5 minutes then have Q&A for 5 minutes.  The top 2 would go on to compete for a $25k winner takes all prize.

It went something like this...

Preparation.  Check.
Visualization.  Check.
Relaxation prior to event (Marine Museum... Ooh Rah!).  Check.
Feeling of being on top of the world.  Check.
DC traffic on way to event (even though we left early).  Ugh.
More traffic.  Grrrr.
Lost.  WTF?!!!  Damn you Siri! (insert your favorite expletive(s) of choice)
Late.  Oh no!
Doubt.  Isolation.  Stress.  CHECK CHECK CHECK!
Oh wait... there it is.  Deep breath.  Check in to the event.
It's go time.  Visualization.  Deep breath.  I got this.
Presentation.  Right when I walked off the stage someone told me "Great job, man.  You crushed it!"
Feeling of being on top of the world.  CHECK CHECK CHECK!
Audience pull of best slide decks.  LAST!  WTF?!!!
Embarrassment.  Check.

Wait a minute... Let's look at this a bit closer.  I got cute with the slides (tried to adapt it to something from the military) and put too much information on them.  That didn't work.  Live and learn.  However, the judges ranked my pitch 3rd, only 3 points behind 2nd place!  I got a bunch of great feedback.  I got some really solid prospects.  I found a couple new mentors.  I got to present in front of 100+ people in a new market.  I had a lot of fun doing it (and got free beer).  Sounds like a lot of small victories to me.

Entrepreneurship is a mental game full of highs and lows on a daily basis.  Don't be afraid to try things.  Learn from your mistakes, find the small victories, and move on.  Don't be afraid to swing the bat.  String together some singles each day and be smart on the base paths, and you may just end up in the hall...

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."  Yogi Berra