Nick slammed into the second baseman and the stadium reacted with stunned silence. A moment later the umpire signaled, “Out!” Then he tossed Nick from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The whole scene played out in a matter of moments but the repercussions continued to be felt days later.
What Nick knew …
With two outs and a force at second, he knew he had to run.
He knew the probability of beating the throw to second was slim to none.
He also knew baseball rules stated he must slide in order to prevent injury to the players involved.
What Nick did …
He remained upright and plowed into the second baseman.
The debate continues among the coaches as to whether he did it deliberately or not. I believe I’m the only one giving him the benefit of the doubt.
But here’s the takeaway problem from this scenario. Knowing the right thing to do and doing it are two different things. If you had quizzed Nick about the situation before the play happened, he’d have answered every question correctly. He’s a smart ballplayer.
On the other hand, he made a foolish decision that eliminated him from that day’s competition and kept him out of the next game (if you’re tossed from a game, you leave the field immediately and have an additional one-game suspension).
Look. At some point, we all know the right thing to do and yet make a poor choice. How do we connect knowing the right thing with doing the right thing?
Practice. This year I’ve experienced a lot of baseball as a coach and a spectator. The one thing I’ve marveled at is the choreographed beauty of practice. From high school to the pros, I’ve seen the stretching, the warming up, the tossing of balls, the fielding of grounders, the camping under pop flies, and the swinging of bats. All this has been a part of the preparation done before a game. It happens during the week and in the hour prior to each game.
If we are to do anything well, we must practice. For me, as a writer, practice comes in the form of jotting down observations, sketching out characters, outlining article ideas, and writing…writing… writing.
Although reading is not writing (therefore not actual practice time), it does serve as doing my homework and studying. To improve at what we do, we must both prepare and practice.
Ponder. In baseball, you have plenty of opportunities to fail. A ground ball takes a bad hop (or in my case recently, no hop at all) and you miss it. A breaking ball slides by the outside corner for a called strike three. A throw to first sails high. Extra effort running to second gets you tossed from the game (as in Nick’s case).
At some point, a failed attempt is inevitable.
The wise person ponders the problem and works out the solution. I want to note what I just said and what I didn’t say. The wise person (as opposed to the smart person or the foolish one) ponders the problem (the inevitable failed attempt) and works out the solution (not berates himself for being stupid, inept, or worthless).
Perform. In a recent game, Todd struck out twice. He failed to get the job done. Twice!
In a third at bat against the same pitcher, after reviewing his past failures at the plate, he parked the ball fifty feet beyond the 350 mark in center field. His homerun put our team up by a run in a regional playoff game we eventually won 3-2.
The practicing and the pondering have a purpose—to prepare us to perform at our peak.
In thinking about the tenuous connection between knowing what to do and doing it, I came to this conclusion.
Smart people know what to do.
Wise people do it.
I’m curious. How well connected is what you know and what you do? What’s something in which you need to walk through all three steps—practice, ponder, and perform?
Cheri Gregory, a teacher, is having her students guest blog at One Thing I’ve Learned. Here’s an excellent post, “I Believe in Making Time For People.”
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“Smart people know what to do. Wise people do it.”
Great post Tom! There are many opportunities to apply this truth in a typical day…looking forward to sharing it today!
Thanks, Chris. After our emails back and forth, I finally found the instructions for the Share button. They were simple enough (or else I’d never have figured them out :-)). I appreciate your encouragement and help on that a few weeks ago.
I am just beginning to write. In college I loved the writing class, even kept the books from it….now where did I put them? I have always loved reading…I don’t like reading things with big words I don’t understand and cant pronounce….lesson, keep it simple….I always was busy…too busy…now as I ride down the road I have more time available to think, to write, to practice this skill….the road also gives me many ideas for writing….Will I be smart or will I be wise? That is a decision I will need to make every day..not only in my writing, but in my eating and more….Thanks Tom…Thanks God for using Tom!
You’re welcome, Mary. I look forward to your taking 3 steps toward writing more.
We are in the middle of baseball season for my youngest, so this analogy works quite well for my thinking not only because I have baseball on my mind but because my son is also struggling with knowing what’s write and doing what’s right. He continues to have serious contraditions between his words and his actions. So, this post helps give me some more language to use in helping him to make the two match up.
So many of life’s lessons are transferable from the field of competition to what we say and do at home, at church, at work, etc. I know you’ll work things through with your son because you’re committed to the Lord and to him. Those two commitments make a world of difference.
Thank you for the confidence and encouragement.
Thanks for the reminder how sports provide an opportunity to learn so much about life, especially the lessons of being wise. The intelligent know, the wise know and do, the wisest of all know, do and teach others to do the same.
Excellent reminder of taking a deeper step in wisdom. Your advice reflects that of Paul who wrote to the Philippian believers: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.” (Philippians 4:9)
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