Lessons from Moneyball

My husband and I watched the movie Moneyball this weekend, and I loved it. I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much, but I did.

This movie is based on the book with same title that details how Billy Beane and his assistant changed the game of baseball by only focusing on basic, concrete player stats – how many times do they get on base – in forming a team. The movie chronicles the transformation of the Oakland A’s, a team with a fraction of the budget of the NY Yankees, and their 20 game winning streak in 2002, with a hodge-podge mix of many no-name and has-been players that Billy Beane drafted using a new theory and methodology.

But what does this have to do with us as women – moms, teachers, professionals?

Well, even though Billy Beane managed to get all the right players on the team, he did not experience immediate success. The A’s actually lost about 11 games initially.  Billy probably thought that as long as he brought all the players together, the theory would work like magic. But it didn’t.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have fallen in a trap sometimes of getting focused on that one new game, habit, book, or curriculum, believing that if I only got it, some magical outcome would occur – like my child would be a chess genius or know calculus or even just be happy forever. 🙂

I see it happen in business, too, with customers. They sometimes think that if they just get that perfect logo, software system, book or business card, that their business will just take off.

And really, that’s only the first part of the recipe for success. And success isn’t even guaranteed.

But, as we saw in Moneyball with Billy Beane, if we choose to do the hard work and stay involved with the people and the systems, there is a much greater likelihood for success. When we lead, inspire and understand, people actually step up and do amazing things.

I spend a lot of time building online systems for my children to use for their schooling at home. They can look at their site and check out their daily and weekly assignments. They have recitation digital documents with the poems and verses they memorize, which we can access from all our devices. The have copywork books, art folders and a special shelf for their other books, too.

But unless I do the harder work of training them to use the systems, it was wasted prep work on my part. I have to lead. I have to check in with them periodically to make sure they are actually checking things off and understanding what they are learning. And just like Billy Beane listened to the players’ complaints of expensive soda in the machines, I can look for “easy wins” or changes that don’t cost me too much time, money, or revisions, in order to help my kids to stay focused and motivated.

In starting a new business, it’s so easy to step into the “if we build it, they will come,” mentality. But putting up a website and CRM system is really just the starting point. As business owners, we have to intentionally continue to seek out the people that will make these systems successful – new customers – and stay involved with and lead the people that manage them.

Do you ever find yourself falling into this trap as well, looking for something to be the magic “fix”? What are some thing you do to lead yourself and others well?


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