The Aha Moment A Lesson Learned From Stephen Strasburg And The Washington Nationals
Aug 30, 2010
Stephen Strasburg, a much heralded rookie pitcher for the Washington Nationals, who came up to the major leagues earlier this year, may undergo Tommy John surgery. Sports Illustrated described Strasburg as “most hyped and closely watched pitching prospect in the history of baseball.” Some people even argued that he should have been selected to the National League All-Start Team despite being in the majors for only a few weeks.
Many pitchers successfully have come back from this surgery and continued their careers (83% of athletes according to a 2008 study by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine). Kerry Wood, a pitcher with the NY Yankees, was a Chicago Cubs’ phenom in 1998. He was named Rookie of the Year and tied Rogers Clemens record for strikeouts in a nine inning game with 20. The next spring he had the surgery. Although he came back to pitch again in the 2000 season, many baseball people argue that he never did live up to expectations. He has been on the disabled list 14 times in 13 seasons.
If Strasburg is among the 17% who do not make it back, he won’t have to worry about paying the bills, after all, he did sign a $15 million guaranteed contract with the Nationals in 2009 (only 77 seconds before the signing deadline). He is the exception to the rule, not everyone is as fortunate. How many business owners have a $15 million financial cushion to fall back on?
When I ask a business owner about plans for his or her business, the answer is usually, “I’m going to be working in my business for a long, long time. I’m not worrying about retirement yet. I’m not going anywhere.”
My reply is, “Everyone is going to leave their business someday; the only question is when? Will it be by your choice or will some other event make the decision for you? What about factors not under your control?”
You can almost see the light bulb go off when the person has what I call, The Aha Moment.
The rest of the conversation is usually about the need to develop Plan B. The owner needs to consider things that might occur and possibly derail their future plans. The purpose of the exercise is to consider the possibilities and what, if any, the appropriate action should be. If a worst case scenario doesn’t occur, that’s great. However, if something does happen, you won’t be caught like a “deer in the headlights.”
Ed Baloga is a New York based partner and business advisor with B2BCFO® and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.