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Bat .501 and Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Terrie Ellerbee, associate editor
Terrie Ellerbee, associate editor

Did you ever have something happen that you thought was just, well, awful, but then later it turns into a point of pride, something you’re sure to share with your as-yet unborn grandchildren?

Happens all the time. One day you can’t quite get your bearings. The next you’re on top of the world. Getting from deep in a canyon to high on a hill hinges on one thing: perspective.

Like the song says, “sometimes you’re the windshield/sometimes you’re the bug.”

An English professor at Northwest Florida State College named Duque Wilson, who was beloved by all, taught his students the “Bat .501” principle. He even had it on his license plate.

That .501 figure in baseball would be a ­heckuva sports story, wouldn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to have that batting average?

As we face events that try our patience, test our mettle or ­simply bewilder us, if at the end of the day, more good things than bad happened, well, what more could you ask?

The Bat .501 principal is simple and effective and easy to remember.

A customer comes in who is just not going to be happy, no matter how hard the store staff may try. There is no ­pleasing him.

But then, another shopper comes in who wants to speak to the store manager—to brag about the terrific service she got and to tell you what wonderful employees you have.

Then, maybe it’s payday, too, or it’s the last day of the workweek.

That’s batting .501.

You have a flat tire. It’s raining. You get to work and everyone is there and ready to go. Every department is firing on all cylinders. Maybe someone notices your great haircut.

That’s batting .501.

Since being schooled by Professor Wilson, other leaders that have crossed my path knew what it meant to keep things in perspective. When disappointment set in about a move within a company where I used to work, the owner called me.

He asked if I still had a home to go to.

He asked if my family still loved me.

He might’ve asked if my dog was still happy to see me come home, if the conversation had gone on long enough.

His point was that no matter what happens in “the world,” that place that is separate from your real life, what really matters are the people who love you, how you treat them and ultimately how you feel about yourself.

It felt a little condescending at the time, sure, but it also made sense, and it’s something that brings me comfort to this day.

My husband, with his Midwestern upbringing, consistently asks anyone he’s in a conversation with to, “Look at it this way.” That may be my favorite Midwesternism.

No matter the viewpoint that is offered, and the topic doesn’t matter, there always is at least one more way to look at it.

And that brings us back to the song: Sometimes you’re the Louisville Slugger, baby. Sometimes you’re the ball.

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