Playing by the Ballpark Rules
By: Tim Reynolds, M.D. Most of our life we live playing in someone else’s ballpark. Simply put, we live by rules which we didn't create. Think about it: 1. You drive a certain speed someone else set as the speed limit. 2. You pay taxes someone else decided were the right amount. 3. You have to obey rules at work that you didn't create. In short, you are playing ball in someone else’s ballpark! You may not always agree with the rules set by the different ballparks you play in, but if you want to succeed, you must understand something: If you are going to play there, you have to play by their rules. Ballpark Life Example I remember when I was young and working for Coca-Cola. Everyday I went to work convinced I could run the department I worked for better than my supervisor. I knew the company would be better off putting me in charge. Do you ever have this feeling in the company where you work? I wish I could say I only felt this way at my job. However, it seemed in my youth, I always wanted to be the rebel. I had to break the rules just because they were there and sometimes because by doing so, I felt I had something to prove. It was a rebellion against the establishment, whatever that establishment happened to be at the time. Finding Success in the Ballparks One day I stumbled across an article by Charles Givens about playing in other peoples ballparks. He wrote something that affected me and has stuck with me since. His words: “If you are going to be successful in someone else’s ballpark, you have to learn to play by their rules.” It really is simple. Sure, you can pound your head against the wall fighting the rules and saying why they are unjust. But at the end of the day, it is their ballpark, not yours. If you choose not to obey the rules, do yourself a favor and take your mitt and ball and go find a new ballpark where you like the rules better. If you cannot stand your overbearing boss, change departments or quit. The worst thing you can do for yourself and for the team you are part of is stay in the same ballpark and continue to rebel against the rules. Not only is it non-productive, but it is also unfair to the "ballpark" owner. Additionally, you only succeed in making you miserable. In order to be successful, to thrive, you have to embrace the rules of the ballpark you play in and become a true member of the team you’re on. Rules Are Not Always Fair Don’t get me wrong. The rules you have to play by may not always be right or ethical. I can argue my taxes are too high, the speed limits are too slow, and I have to work too many hours. In fact, I could spend hours stressing over any of these things. I could go a step further, and with my taxes, I could push the legal limits of paying them. Then, I could spend money on radar detectors to help me break the rules of the road. And I could just show up late at work, not complete projects, or complain to all my co-workers about how unfair work is. All of those options are one way to handle the situation. Perhaps the better option is to accept you live in someone else’s ballpark. Once you accept that, you can learn to play by their rules. Then all the time you wasted complaining and finding ways to rebel against the system can be spent doing more productive things.