A Cardinal Moment

A Cardinal Moment

Last Monday night, we accomplished something that six weeks ago, I might have considered a virtual impossibility.The Cardinals (our t-ball team) recorded three outs in back-to-back innings of the four inning game, holding the Indians to just five runs across the two frames. This, capped off by Madeline fielding three straight ground balls (at pitcher) and throwing to her cousin Luke (at first base), who in turn, caught all 3 outs. The Cardinals held on for an emphatic 18–14 victory, just our third win in eleven tries this season.

I could not have been more proud of the team and those two in particular. As I was signing the final scorecard, following the game, the umpire remarked to me, “That Maddy is a really good pitcher.”

It was a cardinal moment in what has otherwise been just a so-so season.

It was a cardinal moment in what has otherwise been just a so-so season. 

About six weeks ago I shared a story with you about our first car ride to baseball practice this spring … a ride in which Madeline declared from the backseat that she did not need to go to practice because “she already knew how to play t-ball” and in fact, had even “played in games before.”

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, after what I’d deem to be a fairly mediocre season for her to date, she came to me with another declaration. She wanted to “play more pitcher.”

Pitcher, for the uninitiated, is considered one of the elite positions on the field. Teams that have “good pitchers” usually win games. At the ages of 4, 5 and 6, very few kids understand directional hitting. And thus, the pitcher is involved in about 2/3 of the plays.

He or she has to be alert and proactive. Ready to anticipate next moves once the ball is put into play. And I was honest with Madeline. When asked, I told her that she had not shown me that type of initiative yet. She’d have to prove her “want to,” first.

During Spring Break, while the rest of the team was “off,” we went up to the field on three separate occasions — to practice. The following week, it was the same story. We continue to arrive at team practices early, putting in “a little extra.”

Building confidence through repetition. Increasing the likelihood of success, through careful preparation.

Preparation, to me, has always been a key ingredient to success.

Preparation, to me, has always been a key ingredient to success. When I was playing pro baseball, I was often in the clubhouse five hours before the 7:05pm start time. I liked to arrive early, to start both the mental and physical preparation process. To go through my checklist.

This Monday was also opening day for Major League Baseball and I am reminded of an article that I once read about Alex Gordon, two-time All-star and four-time Gold Glove winning outfielder for the Kansas City Royals — my favorite team as a young boy. In part, the article reads …

“Royals left fielder Alex Gordon’s obsession with preparation has transformed him from a first-round draft bust into a two-time All-Star … At his lowest moments before 2011, Gordon felt he moped to the plate without a plan. His approach became too simplistic … His revival occurred after an agonizing period marked by failures, demotions, injuries and a position change. After 2010, he rededicated himself on a pair of fronts …”Article About Alex Gordon’s Work Ethic

Gordon retooled his approach at the plate and his approach to preparing his mind and body for the grind of a 162-game season. The article continues …

“During the season, his pre-game preparation is meticulous … Teammates and coaches marvel at his dedication and reliability … He fusses over the details … and utilizes the constancy of his routine to gird himself from the mental strain of major-league life. Gordon arrives at the ballpark most days around 1 p.m., and walks into the weight room about six hours prior to each night’s first pitch. Before he enters, he formulates a plan … The notebook guides him … He never deviates from his schedule … ‘If I write it down, I’m doing it,’ he says.”Article About Alex Gordon’s Work Ethic

The “doing it” (i.e. fussing over the details and staying consistent in his approach) elevated Gordon to elite status — amongst the league’s top 5 in “Wins Above Replacement” — the metric that is often used to determine the relative value of each player in the league. It put him square in the middle of the Royals World Series run in 2014 and their World Series Crown in 2015.

As Tom Bilyeu says … Life has a simple equation: If you put in the right work, you get the right results.

Life has a simple equation: If you put in the right work, you get the right results.

I’m currently in early discussions with a newly-licensed agent about potentially joining me at Three Pillars Realty. As part of that discussion, I laid out a five-step process that I asked him to complete before we met face to face again. This, of course, serving multiple objectives, not the least of which is a brief indoctrination into our approach in serving clients.

In step 2, I asked him to dissect client case studies, important articles and past newsletters. After which, he emailed back, “The case studies make sense. I am taking it you use proper staging and easy cosmetic fixes to differentiate the home for maximum value. You have reliable vendors that prove to do a good job consistently to get those things accomplished … I also get that if the homeowner really wants to [unlock] the true potential of the home, they have to do the right thing,” and own the process.

Definitely on the right track, I responded. “Mostly, yes. 99% of homeowners profess to wanting to get ‘maximum value’ but far fewer are willing to do the work that it takes to generate that kind of return. A lot of the time, it’s not necessarily their fault though, because the agent they are working with simply goes along with whatever the owner says or does, for fear of losing the listing. That’s the epidemic of real estate, in a nutshell. But it’s also what sets our clients apart (i.e. wins above replacement). We have a 200–300 step process checklist that we follow each and every listing to help the client engineer a superior outcome. Everything is strategic and methodical. Very little is left to chance.”

A perfect illustration … I’ll be activating a listing out near the lake, within the next week or so. Big kudos to the owner who went out of her way to breathe some life into a vacant house. She’s literally spent the past 2–3 weekends moving herself back into the house because she told me, “it’s important to give buyers the feeling that someone is living there.”

Thats the type of dedication I marvel at. Definitely a veteran move.

Thats the type of dedication I marvel at. Definitely a veteran move.

Tuesday morning my stager, Tracey, and I spent almost two hours preparing the house for professional photos. Yesterday, as is my routine, I arrived at the house well in advance of the photographer … with fresh fruit, fresh flowers and my hedge trimmers in tow. My notebook to guide me.

Photo day is game day and there was work yet to be done.

For the better part of the morning, I scurried around the property, fussing over the details. Making sure everything looked ‘just so.’ The owner had done her part to bring the house to life and I wasn’t about to drop the ball. Last I checked, there are no penalties for doing ‘a little extra.’

  • Have a Plan
  • Do the Work
  • Increase the likelihood of success through careful preparation.

It’s a fairly simple equation on paper but at times an exhausting one in practice. But without a doubt, the one I never tire of, is seeing our clients get an All-Star result.

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Ryan France

Ryan France is a native of Austin Texas, father of two, super-early riser, avid reader, admitted podcast junkie & bulletproof coffee addict. In a past life, France was an aspiring professional baseball player. Today, Ryan is an entrepreneur, author and relentless innovator of the real estate industry. Read more on the "Who is Ryan?" page.