Defying Conventional Wisdom

Over the course of the past few days, two articles have been published in national newspapers about the same Detroit Tigers baseball player, Miguel Cabrera. The fact that I read them both is highly unusual because I consider the Sports section a complete waste of space. What caught my eye in this case was the fact that, according to many, Miguel Cabrera does it “all wrong.” Ah ha, a contention that resonates for me!

As described in the profiles, this third baseman has a beer belly, well-defined man boobs, a highly questionable hair cut, hits pitches which should never be swung at, and actively resists studying video of opposing pitchers.  His technique for swinging the bat is so incomprehensible that his teammates describe him as a “crazy hitter,” who can’t give them tips for emulating his success. And yet, Miguel Cabrera has achieved stats that haven’t been matched in 45 years, leading the league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. The one thing experts have been able to recognize about his stellar abilities is the fact that this 30 year old Venezuelan can identify what sort of pitch is coming, even before the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.

Nothing about Miguel Cabrera or his technique interests me in the least, but all of it gives me hope. Take succor, fellow Re-booters! Cabrera’s example demonstrates how conventional wisdom is incapable of anticipating or understanding all the paths to success. In fact, as Cabrera explains it, if he were to do what nearly ever other Big League hitter does and study a pitcher’s performance, it would interfere with the pattern recognition and instinctive adjustments he makes at bat. What he does, he does in the milliseconds before a pitcher even releases the ball. Cabrera’s ability to hit so well defies everything experts who have dedicated their careers to explaining the “perfect hit” have said. He lacks the physique, he lacks the bookish manner, and ignores the technique that has been held up as the gold standard for successful hits. It’s not that Cabrera set out to be a rebel or an iconoclast, angrily defying his coaches; what has made him successful is his instinctive talents combined with a determined work ethic. He cultivated his talents under the watchful guise of his uncle/coach, but he did so within the parameters of going with his gut—things even he can’t fully explain or understand. He just knows how to hit the ball.

Now, what does this have to do with re-booting?

We, each of us, have talents that are instinctive; we just know how to do certain things. For one person, it may be hitting a baseball; for another, it’s reading people’s distress and knowing what to do; for a third, it’s adding the slightest bit of spice to deepen and enrich a flavor. But the way we know this, the way we know what to do, well, we can’t articulate it. Miguel Cabrera serves as a reassuring example proving that success is available to us even if we don’t fit the norm. Even if our approach appears haphazard and sloppy to others. Even if our method offends People Who Know More Than We Do. And, further, Cabrera’s resistance to studying video of pitchers’ performances, serves as a warning that copying others can interfere with our own abilities. It’s not always a good thing to learn from others’ examples because we are not they.

Re-booters need to be reminded that we may very well have to go our own way to succeed. We may not have any examples to emulate, which can sometimes make one feel lonely or adrift. But our talent exists within us and it may be just the thing for us to contravene convention in order to tap it. So, the next time, you are sitting there wondering what in the world you are doing, how could you possibly delude yourself into thinking you can achieve this goal utilizing one of your crazy talents, I want you to think of our friend Miguel, hitting that ball out of the park, a pitch every coach in baseball would’ve warned him not to swing at.

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2 Responses to “Defying Conventional Wisdom”

  1. Grasshopper Says:

    LOVE this post. This definitely resonates with me. Thank you!

  2. Kaaren Robertson Says:

    Very good. I see the inspiration. I want to let your mind and my mind marinate in those thoughts! xx

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