Writing to Win

My 15-year-old son, Evan, has been playing in a summer baseball league. I don’t know how these things work where you live, but around here, the summer league is decidedly less intense than the spring session.

Not as many spectators show up; not as many players show up (teams frequently need to borrow from one another during the game); and in terms of the level of experience of the umpires, let’s just say that many of them need to be driven to the field by their moms.

And yet all that said, the real proof of the laid back nature of summer baseball in my town is that yours truly has somehow been anointed “official scorekeeper” for the team. Indeed, I was literally plucked from the crowd by the coach on the first day of the season, after he sized me up as someone who could step into this critical role.

Granted, the “crowd” on that day consisted of me, a woman who appeared to be about fifteen months pregnant, and a large, sleepy dog with some kind of half-eaten plastic container in its mouth.

The dog showed little interest in the game and the woman seemed likely to go into labor before the first pitching change. And so I emerged as the clear and obvious choice.

After a brief scorekeeping tutorial from the coach, the game got underway and my new career began.

Let me just say that the term “scorekeeper,” is a bit of an understatement, as the task involves much more than just counting runs.

Among other things, you’re responsible for chronicling each player’s turn at bat; keeping track of him, if and when he moves around the bases; and even noting how many batters each pitcher has faced (the limit is 15 per game). Between you and me, this scorekeeping thing is considerably more grueling than my actual day job.

But that’s not why I’m telling you all this. What I’ve noticed over the weeks is that scorekeeping – like writing a monthly newsletter – gives you a better feel for the game.

Here’s what I mean…

I’ve been watching little league baseball for over ten years now and most of the games have left little impression. With the exception of a few odd or spectacular plays over the years, the rest of it has just washed over me and I really don’t remember much.

Since I’ve been scorekeeping, however, I’ve come to have an appreciation for the story behind the games; the need to pay attention and write everything down has drawn me in. Now, instead of just seeing a bunch of random kids hitting and throwing, I see the complexity and plot of each game as it unfolds.

Writing a monthly newsletter works the same way. When you pause each month to reflect and clarify and struggle to express a point of view, you clear the dust away. Even if nobody else were to read your newsletter, the act of writing it down gives you an understanding that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

That’s big. Because while most of your competitors are just “doing the work” everyday, you’re stepping back each month to improve your understanding of the game itself. And if your experience is anything like mine, it’s the improved understanding – rather than the extra efforting – that is the source of your success.

Here’s the bottom line. It’s easy to drift from day to day, handling the work that comes at you, but never giving much thought to what it means or how it all hangs together.

Writing a monthly newsletter, on the other hand, in addition to the pure marketing value it offers, will sharpen your focus, add to your perspective, and give you an edge over those who simply show up for their turn to bat.

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