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Joe DiMaggio holds the record for the longest hitting streak, 56 consecutive games! During this hitting streak, he hit .408 in 223 at bats, accumulated 15 home runs and 55 runs batted in. For those who don’t follow baseball, that’s really good; really, really good. I’ve always respected the hitting streak. You see, baseball is a hard game; most professional baseball players find some kind of success on the field, but the ones who stand out are the players who find success consistently. A major league baseball season is made up of 162 games; that’s a lot, and that does not include spring training nor the playoffs. The best players are the ones who can consistently deliver over the course of a whole season. This is why I am so impressed with Joe Dimaggio. It wasn’t the home runs or the runs batted in that he’s most remembered for, it was the hitting streak. He’s most remembered for his consistency.
Being a baseball fan, I’ve started using the hitting streak to help shape my self-assessment on the job. At the end of the day, I ask myself questions such as: Did I get a hit today? Was I successful? Did I contribute? Did I help my team win? If I can answer yes to just one of these questions, I consider it a hit. Sure, home runs and runs batted in are nice, but the real battle is the consistency. Realistically, I just can’t hit a home run everyday. I’m looking for value in consistency, just a small victory everyday, but I’ve struggled with this. It’s just hard to be consistent, and sometimes, life seems to prevent the hits. I may be going through a rough time, I may not be feeling well, I may be concerned about a loved one, and these things tend to prevent me from getting hits. The teaching season is 187 work days over the course of 10 months; it’s a long season, longer even than a baseball season, but it’s my goal this year to break DiMaggio’s streak. I want a 57 game hitting streak. I want to find consistent success, just one small victory a day.
With baseball, a bad day is always just a day away, and bad day after bad day is known in baseball as a slump. It’s during a slump where each player must depend on each other. A baseball player is really just one part of a team, and good teammates pick each other up over the course of the long season. And hopefully, the slumping player takes responsibility, making adjustments and asking questions to overcome the fall. Is the problem mechanical, is the problem psychological, or is the problem just bad luck? Whatever the case may be, the best players rely on their teammates while actively doing what is necessary to get that next hit.
For me, teaching and learning is hard, and not because each day is hard; it’s just a long season. So this year, I hope to manage my expectations by targeting that longer term success by looking for the small victories, just one a day. I don’t need a home run, those may come in time; I just want that hit. I want to contribute positively each day, helping my team win. I’ll also remember that I just may not be able to get that hit everyday, and I’m going to have to rely on my teammates to pick me up. More importantly, I want my teammates to know that I’ll be there to pick them up as well.