A home run swing is when you put everything you have into the effort. It’s a matter of making an all-out commitment, leaving nothing in reserve.
Reflecting on my career, I’ve found that early on I hesitated to put ‘everything’ on the line. As I gained experience, I came to realize that if circumstances left me between a rock and a hard place. I was usually successful in wriggling my way out. I could have taken on more risk in many more cases than I thought.
Since then, I’ve become more willing to appraise a situation and “swing for the fences” if the circumstances warrant. A good example is a trip that I took to Europe to recruit partners to run my company’s best US-based conferences. The four-week visit represented a commitment of time and money that required getting partners to justify the cost of the trip. I was given the freedom to plan and manage my own trip, but if nothing came of it, I wasn’t going to be running those European events.
I had been in frequent contact with a German prospect, but three weeks before my trip things went quiet when previously we had spoken several times weekly. Despite that period of silence, I chose to set up camp in Stuttgart, where the prospect was based, even though he didn’t know I would be there. It was a gamble that I’d be able to do business with his firm rather than try to hedge my bet with other German companies that were based in other cities.
I called him at 10 AM local time and upon answering the phone, he expressed surprise that I was only 5 miles away. That proximity led to a face-to-face negotiation of an agreement that ultimately generated a million dollars in revenue within two years. The nature of that trip had meant huge pressure to get ‘deals’ and the safe bet would have been to set up camp somewhere else in Germany and pursue a number of different companies from a more central location. Stuttgart is certainly not centrally located, as a city like Frankfurt would have been. But I decided to swing for the fences, with the risk that I might strike out and fail. But I didn’t.
It’s hard to know when to take on such risk, as we all fear ending up with nothing. I’ve learned, having been taught by experience, that there’s less exposure to failure than one might think, particularly if you’re all in. And that risk is countered by the levels you can reach if you only put yourself out there – without a safety net.
Give yourself the home run swing.